La Belle Epoque

  • La Belle Époque  (1871-1914)

    The period following the Franco-Prussian War of 1871 until the outbreak of World War I is often called La Belle Époque by historians.  According to them, this was a period of peace, culture, artistic innovation, democracy, invention and the expansion of the glorious culture of Europe to the rest of the world.  In many ways, La Belle Époque witnessed the high points in the good life for the European upper and middles classes and a dramatic improvement in the lives of the common people as well.  Fashion, food, vacation resorts, architecture, literature, and theater all came together magnificently during this era.  Of course, there was a dark side too – prostitution was rampant, middle class behavior was highly restrictive especially for females, and poverty was still quite real.  This assignment is designed to give you a glimpse into this world, and you should strive to use this time to revel in its glories and its dark underside.  You should use the information in your text and internet sources in your research.


    Part 1 - Research

    Research four topics from La Belle Époque.  For each topic, you should find approximately 10 interesting and relevant facts.  Get enough information, so that you would feel comfortable describing the topic to someone else.  You should also state the impact of each topic and how and why it fits into the era.  Does it support or refute the idea of La Belle Époque?  One topic must be chosen from each of the following categories:


    1.      Science and Technology – Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Louis Pasteur, Charles Darwin, Max Planck, electricity, anesthetics, elevators, steel, radio, automobiles, planes, etc.


    2.      Creative Arts –Impressionism, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, Postimpressionism, Vincent Can Gogh, Georges Seurat, Expressionism, Henri Matisse, Edvard Munch, Cubism, Pablo Picasso, futurism, Louis Sullivan, Naturalism, Emile Zola, Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoevski, Richard Wagner, Igor Stravinsky, photography, Jacob Riis, etc.


    3.      Social Sciences – Sigmund Freud, psychoanalysis, Ivan Pavlov, Max Weber, Emile Durkheim, Herbert Spencer, Racial Darwinist, eugenics, Henri Bergson, Friedrich Nietzsche, etc.


    4.      Society – Emmeline Pankhurst, childhood, gender roles, amusement parks, vacation resorts, sports, city life, the Can-Can, Moulin Rouge, London Underground, Hotel Ritz Paris, fashion, Punch Magazine, advertising, prostitution, Jack the Ripper, etc.


    Part 2 – Poster

    Choose one of your research topics and create a poster.  The poster should cover the topic in detail and include images. You should also include the topic’s impact and whether it supports a positive or negative interpretation of La Belle Époque.  Quality counts!  Your poster should not look like a preschooler made it.  And DON’T PLAGIARIZE!!! 


    Use the following websites on your quest for knowledge:

    BBC The Victorians:

    The Victorian Web:

    Fordham (See Second Industrial Revolution,Contradictions of the Enlightenment, and Religion in the Face of Modernity):

    Metropolitan Museum of Art: