Visual Culture

Summer ~ Semester ~ Academic Year

Lexia’s visual culture is designed to make the most of what Paris has to offer in way of art collections, heritage monuments, and artistic innovation. Students consider the conditions for creating, collecting, and displaying works of art, and examine the interplay of culture and politics.

Paris offers students a wide variety of visual and cultural encounters, from the collections of images housed in its numerous museums and galleries, to its breadth of landscape and architecture that has shaped its identity. A city with a deep cultural history, it is a perfect place to explore the role of the visual in cultural understanding.

Students will synthesize their research from their Visual Culture Seminar into an original inquiry cultivated in their research methods Seminar course. Their inquiry will culminate in their Visual Research Project. Students will research and produce a body of work ranging from painting, photography, video, and architecture. Students pursue their independent self-designed project with a faculty member, professional, artist, architect, or other mentor who serves as advisor for the project.


"Museum visits with Ludmilla, our resident director, were fascinating. She really stoked an interest in Art History in me."


Program Options

Students on the Lexia Paris Visual Culture program can choose whether to study abroad for a five-week summer term, a semester, or the academic year. When deciding how long to study abroad, students should consult their academic advisor, financial aid counselor, study abroad office and their family. Lexia staff can assist students with this decision. A list of courses and course descriptions can be found below:


Summer Program

Students on the Lexia Paris Visual Culture summer program take two courses for a total of 8 semester credits or 12 quarter credits. 

  • Visual Culture Seminar
  • French Language Course


Semester Program

Students on the Lexia Paris Visual Culture semester program take four courses for a total of 16 semester credits or 24 quarter credits. 

  • Visual Culture Seminar
  • French Language Course
  • Research Methods Seminar
  • Visual Research Project


Academic Year

Students on the Lexia Paris Visual Culture academic year program take eight courses during two semesters for a total of 32 semester credits or 48 quarter credits. 

Students on academic year programs complete the regular semester program described above during the first semester. In the second semester, students continue language training and their Field Research Project and choose two Elective Courses to complete their academic program. Key to a second semester in Paris is designing a program of study that immerses the student in the local culture via language study, internship or volunteer experiences, course work, and independent study and projects. Students are also encouraged to consider spending the spring semester at a different Lexia site, conducting a comparative or complementary Field Research Project. 

Semester 1

  • Visual Culture Seminar
  • French Language Course
  • Research Methods Seminar
  • Visual Research Project

Semester 2

  • Visual Research Project
  • French Language Course
  • Elective Course 1
  • Elective Course 2



Visual Culture Seminar (Four semester/six quarter credits)

A survey of visual culture from the Renaissance to the present, gives students a depth and breadth of knowledge of French visual culture. Under the premise that works of art not only exemplify artistry, they give expression to systems of belief. The ways in which a society views life and death, power and authority, the role of the individual and the collective, social and sexual identity and difference, is reinforced, challenged, or subverted in artistic productions. Students will view work ranging from the canon of painting, graphic arts and architecture to modernist, post-modernist and the contemporary arts of media art, illustration, film/video/photography and graphic design.

A team of art historians and curators, each teaching in his or her area of expertise, officers a series of seminars, museum and gallery visits and talks with artists and architects. Visits with international artists in their studios provides a chance to discuss the process of making art, as well as the students place in the rapid exchange among world cultures. Requirements: active class participation, two to three short papers and/or presentations, and a final exam or project.


French Language Course (Four semester/six quarter credits)

French language courses are taught at the elementary, intermediate, or advanced levels at the Cours de Langue et de Civilisation Française de la Sorbonne with other international students.


Research Methods Seminar (Four semester/six quarter credits)

This seminar teaches a range of methods for engaging in sustained, original inquiry and sets the framework for developing the Visual Research Project. By exploring the cities’ history students are encouraged to examine and revise their ideas of French culture, and to question their own sense of self and to explore cultural identities in general.

Paris offers students a myriad of visual and cultural encounters, through a series of visual and writing exercises, students explore language, visual skills, ethical issues and theorize about their experience while synthesizing their field knowledge into an original work and/or formal academic writing.


Visual Research Project (Four semester/six quarter credits)

The Visual Research Project is an opportunity for students to assimilate their critical theory research into creative production in a workshop/studio semester long project.

Students pursue their independent self-designed project with a faculty member, professional, artist, architect or other mentor who serves as advisor for the project, meeting periodically with the student to provide supervision and support. Students are encouraged to use their language skills, knowledge of the local culture, and subject matter.

The final product of the Visual Research Project can take a variety of forms, but must express a rigorous, sustained inquiry into the chosen topic and demonstrate the student’s ability to engage with the resources in Paris. Projects may range from a 20-25 page paper to a collection of short stories or personal essays. Students may also produce a body of work in the traditional arts of painting, sculpture and architecture, or the contemporary arts with a focus on the media and performative arts, illustration, film/video and photography.

Students are required to spend a minimum of 60 hours per semester conducting research for their project, meeting for a minimum of eight hours with their advisor and/or the Academic Director. A week at the end of each semester is planned for the synthesis of the students findings, writing, or other work, followed by the presentation and discussion of the projects in the group. Grades for the Visual Research project are based on the required paper or project, process, and the final presentation. Final grade assessments are made by the advisor and the Academic Director. Students must submit the final project by the end of the semester.


Dates & Deadlines

Coming soon!


Homestays: Students live in homestays throughout Paris, which allows them to have a rich intercultural and linguistic experience. Students should be aware that the "traditional" family (two parents, children) is becoming a rarity in urban Paris; they may be placed with an older couple or single person, cousins, or in other family configurations. In single or double rooms, students share safe accommodations in apartments equipped with the essentials. Most housing providers are long-term Paris residents and offer insights and the chance to practice French and intercultural skills.



The program fee covers all Lexia excursions, which are designed to help students discover areas and aspects of culture that are typically less easily accessible to tourists and give a broad representation of the breadth of French culture and its people. Excursions outside of Paris may include some of the following:

Strasbourg: Largest city in Alsace; Palais de l’Europe; Old Town

Burgundy: Visits to Dijon (The capital of Burgundy) and Beaune

Normandy: Normandy Beaches, site of D-day landings; Bayeux

Versailles: Palace built by Louis XIV outside of Paris

Mont St. Michel: 8th century abbey built on an island on the frontier between Brittany and Normandy

Loire Valley: Chateau de Villandry; Chateau de Chenonceau; Chateau de Chambord; Chateau de Blois

Giverny: Home of Claude Monet


Integrated into some of the courses, excursions in and around Paris are an essential part of the Lexia program. These field trips can include:

  • Musée d’Orsay
  • Musée de Louvre
  • Notre-Dame de Paris
  • St. Julien-le-Pauvre
  • Sacré Coeur
  • Musée Cluny
  • Panthéon
  • L'Hôtel des Invalides
  • La Sainte Chapelle

The Lexia staff assists students in adjusting to and interacting with the local culture.  Students are encouraged to attend extracurricular events. Students with particular extracurricular interests should alert the Resident Director once abroad, so that s/he may help the student become involved.  The program staff may also inform students of cultural events and independent travel opportunities available to them.



Semester: $16,950
Tuition: $13,525
Housing: $3,425

Academic Year: $31,550
Tuition: $24,700
Housing: $6,850

Summer: $6,495
Tuition: $4,745
Housing: $1,750


Program Fees Include:

  • On-Site Orientation (2-4 days)
  • All Tuition and Fees
  • All Scheduled Program Excursions
  • Housing Costs
  • Services of Lexia Resident Director and Program Staff
  • Comprehensive Medical Insurance Policy
  • International Student Identity Card (ISIC)
  • Official Transcript from Elizabethtown College 



Not included in the Program Fee are the following estimated expenses based past students' experiences during the semester-long program:

  • Airfare Ranges from $800–$1,100
  • Meals not Covered $2,080
  • Books & Supplies $230
  • Personal Expenses $1,400

Estimated Total Additional Expenses: $4,660 – $4,960

Students should also remember to budget for independent travel during the one-week break within the semester. If desired, students may choose to remain in their Lexia accommodation in Paris during the break at no additional cost.


Instructors & Institutions

The Lexia program offers students opportunities to explore this dynamic city and historical region, while confronting the daily challenge of a changing society.  One of the recognized strengths of the Lexia programs is the strongly supportive faculty and staff. The Lexia Resident Director provides students with the necessary information to live and study in France. The faculty of the Lexia program consists primarily of French professors, with occasional lectures by specialists from government and industry. These faculty members also serve as Field Research Project advisors and offer a link to local students.

The "Cours de Langue et de Civilisation Française de la Sorbonne" was created by the Sorbonne in 1917 for the purpose of teaching French language and culture to foreign students. The professors offer traditional teaching, including "practical classes" where all aspects of the French language are taught through phonetics training and laboratory work, along with lectures on French civilization. Classes are small and are offered at the elementary, intermediate, and advanced levels. Students take both an oral and written test to place them into the appropriate language level.  Formal classroom instruction takes place for ten to fifteen hours a week.

Academic Year students with sufficient French proficiency have the option of enrolling in the Conferences at the Sorbonne (in French: art history, literature, film, and history) if their schedules do not conflict with regularly scheduled Lexia courses. The student body at the Sorbonne is very international and the students find themselves surrounded by people from around the world.



The typical course load is four courses per semester. Students who successfully complete Lexia’s program requirements are able to earn the equivalent of one full semester or academic year of college/university level credit, pending approval from their home institution.

It is the student’s responsibility to be aware of the credit transfer policies at his/her home institution and department, including advising appointments, paperwork and pre-departure or re-entry activities. We strongly suggest that students contact their study abroad or other appropriate office early in the planning stage to ensure that they complete all requirements.


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