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Courses / Modules / HIST2091 Underworlds: A cultural history of urban nightlife in the 19th and 20th centuries

Underworlds: A cultural history of urban nightlife in the 19th and 20th centuries

When you'll study it
Semester 2
CATS points
15
ECTS points
7.5
Level
Level 5
Module lead
Joachim Schloer
Academic year
2021-22

Module overview

“On 13 December 1838, on a cold and rainy night, a man of athletic build, dressed in a shabby jacket, crossed the Pont au Change and penetrated into the Cité […]. That night the wind was blowing violently through the alleyways of this dismal neighbourhood.” The opening scene of Eugène Sue’s 1842/43 novel ‘Les Mystères de Paris’ gives an urban topographic image to the idea that beyond and below the modern and illuminated city there is a ‘dark side’, an ‘underworld’: full of danger and temptation, and in need of being penetrated by the forces of order and light.

Taking this text as a starting point you will explore the various facets of the 19th century urban underworld. Using documentary sources produced by journalists, scientists, missionaries, and policemen you will investigate and analyse a secret world of mysteries, populated by gangsters and prostitutes, drunkards and runaways, and maybe by ghosts.

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