Alumni Dissertations and Theses

 
 

Alumni Dissertations and Theses

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  • Le Vice Italien: Philippe d'Orléans and Constructing the Sodomite in Seventeenth-Century France

    Author:
    Desmond Hosford
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    French
    Advisor:
    Dmona Stanton
    Abstract:

    In seventeenth-century France, sexual acts among men did not correspond to modern notions of "homosexuality," which developed during the nineteenth century. Instead, biblical and civil law designated such acts as "sodomy," which was cast as an Italian vice and did not constitute a sexual identity. The sexual practices of sodomites might involve only men, or they might also involve women, and the ways in which those acts were linked to stereotypes of masculinity, femininity, and effeminacy changed over the course of the century. Across a continuum ranging from non-sexual homosociality to sodomy, the performance of masculinity was grounded in dynastic imperatives and the display of armed prowess rather than sexuality. During the early part of the century, Louis de Bourbon, prince de Condé (1621-86) and Louis XIII followed in a tradition of warrior sodomites extending back to Greco-Roman and Judaic culture, but by the end of the century, due to the rise of salon and court civility, which required new ways of performing masculinity off the battlefield, the sodomite had become associated with the degraded efféminé. Philippe de France, duc d'Orléans (1640-1701), only brother of Louis XIV and known at court as Monsieur, is an emblematic figure in this shift. To explore the construction of the sodomite in seventeenth century France, theoretical matters of terminology, including the meaning of "sodomie" and "sodomite" are discussed first; then the evolution of the sodomite from warrior to effeminé is traced over the course of the century via the civilizing process through which warriors became courtiers; next, how Monsieur's image as a warrior functioned within dynastically-oriented discourse is established; and finally, it is shown how, through the manipulation of Monsieur's natural inclinations for warring and effeminacy (associated in his case with cross-dressing) by Mazarin, Anne d'Autriche, and Louis XIV, his identity as a masculine warrior was sacrificed in favor of his role as efféminé in response to dynastic demands.

  • TRIALS BY DEVIANCE: SEXUAL SLANDER DURING THE WARS OF RELIGION, THE FRONDE, AND THE FRENCH REVOLUTION

    Author:
    Walter Kelly
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    French
    Advisor:
    Walter Kelly
    Abstract:

    This interdisciplinary dissertation in the fields of history, religion, mythology, politics, literature, cultural studies, art, gender, and sexuality examines how sexually slanderous texts against persons at or near the top of the French monarchy of the Ancien Régime assaulted both the reputation of its targets and contributed to regicides and to the eventual revolution. And, while the foremost aim of sexual slander, which increased significantly with each reign, was to harm the target, paradoxically it also helped to recreate and solidify gender and sexual norms. The texts analyzed in this dissertation were written against Henri III (1551-1589), Cardinal Mazarin (1602-1661), and Marie Antoinette (1755-1793). In these periods there appear to be four common factors: a civil war, a deteriorating economy, a "problematic" ruler, and an environment in which censorship was loose and sexually explicit texts were popular. Though each political figure dominated France nearly 100 years apart, slander attacking them reveals remarkably similar traits, emphasizing sexually deviant acts, such as rape, incest, bestiality, and sodomitical and tribadic practices. The texts also employ the same techniques, among which, verisimilitude, intertextuality, hyperbole, repetition, accumulation, ventriloquism, mythological, and biblical references, xenophobia (notably against Italy), scapegoating, and obscenity. The first chapter examines sexually slanderous texts condemning Henri III during the Wars of Religion. Protestants, Catholics, and courtiers condemned the Valois king for his effeminate dress and his intimate relations with his male favorites, referred to as mignons. Ultimately, the king was assassinated in 1589 by Catholic fanatic Jacques Clément (1567-1589). The second chapter analyzes texts against Cardinal Mazarin, the de facto ruler along with queen regent Anne d'Autriche (1601-1666) during the civil wars of the Fronde. Both cardinal and queen were attacked for their supposedly sexual relationship. Mazarin was also denounced for sodomitical acts, his Italian heritage exploited in claims that he enjoyed the "Italian Vice". Sexually slanderous texts against Marie Antoinette are the focus of the third and final chapter of this dissertation. The queen was not only cast as having cuckolded the king and of having borne false heirs, but she was also accused of tribadic relations with her female favorites.

  • Maternités et Identités: Representations of Motherhood and National Identity in Literary Texts of Quebec

    Author:
    Rebecca Linz
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    French
    Advisor:
    Thomas Spear
    Abstract:

    In this dissertation, I analyze the depiction of the mother figure in a selection of Québécois texts spanning from 1916 (Maria Chapdelaine by Louis Hémon) to 2008 (Le Ciel de Bay City by Catherine Mavrikakis). During the course of the 20th through the start of the 21st centuries, Québécois authors have consistently given importance to mothers in their works, although the mothers often appear to play a minor role. Througout the nearly century-long span of the literature in this study, I observe how the mother evolves from a martyred "guardian of the hearth" who upholds religious and domestic duties to various depictions of maternal (and frequently anti-maternal) women. These myriad "maternités et identités" reflect what is happening within Quebecc either at the time each text was written or when the story takes place. I argue that the literary mother represents not only the domestic sphere in which she plays a central role but also social and political changes within Quebecc. For example, cruel mothers are used as a subversive tool to critique both traditional gender roles and governmental and religious oppression during the grande noirceur period. Québécois authors such as Marie-Célie Agnant, Lori Saint-Martin, Ying Chen and Mavrikakis present texts from multicultural perspectives that reveal discrimination and injustices on a global scale. In every text studied here, the authors privilege mother-child relationships significantly more than those between the mother and her spouse. These mother-child relationships reveal the important influence mothers have upon their offspring and the desire children have to cultivate close relationships with their mothers, regardless of their mothers' degree of affection. The authors included here rarely present the mother's point of view (the protagonists being most frequently the children), and oftentimes she plays what appears to be a minor role in a given text. This lack of centrality, however, belies her compelling significance.

  • The Journey Back: Revisiting Childhood Trauma

    Author:
    Ruth Lipman
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    French
    Advisor:
    Nancy Miller
    Abstract:

    This dissertation examines the adult's endeavor to revisit childhood trauma in four sets of literary texts that are not typically studied together. These works, all published after 1968, address the central problem of revisiting childhood trauma in order to open a potential for mourning and sometimes for healing. I explore connections between individual/family trauma and collective/historical trauma. I argue that the use of objects and/or photographs is integral to the process of touching and representing the buried, embodied wounds of childhood, propelling the journeys and conveying the experience to the reader. Each pairing of literary works concerns a different kind of journey. Saul Friedlander's Quand vient le souvenir and Sarah Kofman's Rue Ordener/rue Labat emerge from the experiences of children, both members of the 1.5 generation of Holocaust survivors, who were hidden in France during World War II. Philippe Grimbert's Un Secret and Patrick Modiano's Dora Bruder are suffused with the presence of absence in which the first person narrators, children of Holocaust survivors, who experience feelings of belatedness characteristic of the second generation, try to unravel secrets about people who perished during the Holocaust. Edwidge Danticat's Breath, Eyes, Memory and Annie Ernaux's L'Autre fille contrast texts with substantial differences in genre, style, setting and situation, but Danticat's novel and Ernaux's memoir L'Autre fille both focus on central themes of shame and secrecy. Marie Cardinal's Les Mots pour le dire and Marie- Célie Agnant's Le Livre d'Emma explore the theme of hidden truth. Locating embodied trauma and expressing it to an empathic witness is the difficult and liberating trajectory of these two narratives. The analyses utilize a range of theoretical approaches such as theory about testimonial objects, postmemory and traumatic realism. I emphasize the role of the empathic witness as well as literary devices and structures (such as metaphors, homonyms and intertextuality) that are part of this process.

  • Gender, Architecture, and Self-Construction in the Works of Mademoiselle de Montpensier (1627-1693)

    Author:
    Sophie Marinez
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    French
    Advisor:
    Domna Stanton
    Abstract:

    GENDER, ARCHITECTURE, AND SELF-CONSTRUCTION IN THE WORKS OF MADEMOISELLE DE MONTPENSIER (1627-1693) BY SOPHIE MARINEZ Adviser: Professor Domna C. Stanton Self-construction--that process by which individuals deploy strategies to affirm subjectivities that both reproduce and/or reinforce constructs of gender, class, and ethnicity, and that, at times, can resist, challenge, and/or renegotiate them--is most often manifested in bodily and discursive expressions. However, little work has examined it through artistic constructions such as architectural artifacts. In architecture, self-construction can best be examined, first, by analyzing, in discourses of representational architecture and spatial distribution, the ways in which meanings ascribed to forms and spaces relate to constructs of gender and class in a specific period, and, then, by examining how the actual forms and spaces of a certain building have been built according to these constructs or not. This dissertation works out such an approach by examining early modern treatises of architecture and actual architectural projects commissioned by early modern women in France. I focus on projects undertaken by Mlle de Montpensier (1627-1693), first-cousin to Louis XIV and the wealthiest unmarried woman of Europe in that period. Although mostly remembered by historians for her participation in the civil war of the Fronde, Montpensier was the author of a memoir, several novels, and a series of letters in which she proposed an alternative form of life without marriage. She also commissioned the construction of three chateaux: Saint-Fargeau, in the center of France; Eu, in Normandy; and Choisy-le-roy, a town near Paris. This dissertation lies at the intersection of two disciplines, architecture and literature. As I examine Montpensier's castles as though they were texts, and her texts as if they were architectural artifacts, I argue that Montpensier enlisted her chateaux and her writings as tools to assert a number of complementary and conflicting notions of female autonomy and power, an ambivalent but evolving position in relation to marriage, and, at the same time, constructs of rank that ultimately were more central to her self-construction than the period's discourses of gender.

  • Musical Landscapes: Theophile Gautier and the Evolution of Nineteenth Century French Poetry

    Author:
    Dana Milstein
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    French
    Advisor:
    Royal Brown
    Abstract:

    Théophile Gautier's first edition of Emaux et camées (1852) marks the juncture at which Romantic, Neoclassical, and nascent Symbolist poetic theories converged under the umbrella ideology of "Parnassianism." Emaux et camées synthesizes the aesthetics promoted by these diverse groups, primarily by 1) using "musical" and "painterly" language, 2) emphasizing correspondences among arts, and 3) paradoxically demanding an attention to form and the artist's labor while also emphasizing art's inutility during a century characterized by Progress. Gautier's Emaux et camées bridges painterly and musical poetics to create a new model for poetry. While the vocabulary of painting captivated many nineteenth century writers, music became increasingly admired by poets because of its freedom from representation, and as an "intention-less language." "Musical" poets indemnified the mantra "art for art's sake" and touted the intermingling of art forms, belief systems, and cultural practices during a time when usefulness, authoritarian rule, and homogeny were staunchly reinforced in the political and public spheres. Emaux et camées appeared in 1852, marking a point of departure for poetry. Gautier preserved earlier poetic principles, but also invested a robust work ethic and a devotion to form in his collection. Numerous offshoot poetic groups arose as a result of Gautier, who had reclaimed music's nuanced, fragmented, performative, and anti-utilitarian nature for poetry and poetics.

  • Partir marron: Un parcours sémantique à travers les trous de la mémoire collective haïtienne

    Author:
    Lucie Paul
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    French
    Advisor:
    Francesca Sautman
    Abstract:

    The word "marron" represents both a totality, and a specificity. Totalizing, the term refers to the slave who fled from the plantation, against the colonial order, that is, the fugitive slave. Specific, in the Haitian lexicography, it stands for a shifty and cunning individual, particularily a "Woule m debò" . One has to recognize that there is a double meaning associated with the word, and at the same time, the syntagmatic locution "partir marron" reflects the individual’s dependency on phenomenology. The moment of crisis is one of an explosion, through which one can only be free by severing all ties from this lieu, the colonial plantation. While running away, the fugitive slave engages materialistically his own survival. It is through this dual, sometimes pluralistic, register that I intend to decipher the paradigmatic and syntagmatic relations of marronnage, as well as the antithetical inversions encountered across Haitian lexicography and literature. My intention is to locate the continuities and discontinuities of this semantic transformation, while looking through the forgotten or missing links of Haitian collective memory. I aim, through a narrative (re) construction, to understand and clarify the meaning of being a fugitive slave and a maroon and what that implies in a colonial and postcolonial order. My purpose is to extract, from this semantic strength and richness, what is tributary to history, as socio-cultural heritage. But most fundamentally, I aim to revisit and question the toponymic assignation of the term itself. It seems evident, in my opinion, that the "Marron", if he originates from a lieu, carries in him all "lieux de mémoire". In so doing, he echoes the significance more than the signified version of the term.

  • Les femmes dans le marronnage à l'île Bourbon de 1662 à 1848

    Author:
    Marie-Ange Payet
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    French
    Advisor:
    Edouard Glissant
    Abstract:

    This dissertation examines the presence, participation and role of maroon women in the phenomenon of marronnage, (resistance to slavery) in the island of Bourbon (Réunion Island today) from the beginning of the French colonization in 1662 to the abolition of slavery in 1848. This work investigates how enslaved women played an incentive part in the marronnage and the legacy they left. Once free the Maroons were forced into nomadism, generating a community in perpetual movement in the mountains of Cilaos, Mafate and Salazie. They had to protect themselves from the planters hunting them down. Through the process of reterritorialization the Maroons were able to create a new identity for themselves respecting and remembering their origins and beliefs, inventing their distinct forms of cultural expression such as language, music and dance. However their new territories could not be functional without the presence of women. Some historical and contemporary texts mention the names of the influential maroon women like Héva, Marianne, Raharianne, Simangalove and Sarlave. Part mythical and part real, these women fructified and strengthened the everyday life of maroon villages through agricultural tasks and transmitted the traditions to the next generation leaving a legacy in the underground cultural landscape of today. Looking at the representation of Maroon women in the colonial and contemporary novels of Réunion, the archival documents of the French colony of Réunion, the contemporary toponomy of the mountains, this work attempts to reveal and define the identity of these important women were. This dissertation examines their legacy in the folktales of Mme Desbassyns and Granmèr Kalle and in the practices of holistic medicine by contemporary shaman women in Réunion Island. This dissertation is a testimony and a celebration of their existence.

  • Paris and Havana: A Century of Mutual Influence

    Author:
    Laila Pedro
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    French
    Advisor:
    Mary Ann Caws
    Abstract:

    Abstract PARIS AND HAVANA: A CENTURY OF MUTUAL INFLUENCE by Laila Pedro Adviser: Mary Ann Caws This dissertation employs an interdisciplinary approach to trace the history of exchange and influence between Cuban, French, and Francophone Caribbean artists in the twentieth century. I argue, first, that there is a unique and largely unexplored tradition of dialogue, collaboration, and mutual admiration between Cuban, French and Francophone artists; second, that a recurring and essential theme in these artworks is the representation of the human body; and third, that this relationship ought not to be understood within the confines of a single genre, but must be read as a series of dialogues that are both ekphrastic (that is, they rely on one art-form to describe another, as in paintings of poems), and multi-lingual. Finally, I contend that these translational relationships must be examined within the greater context of twentieth-century modernisms, particularly Surrealism. I apply critical, theoretical and philosophical frameworks articulated by Édouard Glissant, Antonio Benítez Rojo, and Maurice Merleau-Ponty to four case studies of inter-genre, inter-national, multilingual dialogues unfolding over the course of the century to reveal dynamic figurations of bodies that are at once visual, poetic and performative.

  • INSCRIPTION DU PASSÉ COLONIAL DANS LA LITTÉRATURE URBAINE CONTEMPORAINE

    Author:
    Steve Puig
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    French
    Advisor:
    Thomas Spear
    Abstract:

    This dissertation argues that urban literature--a genre that has developed after the 2005 riots in France--has helped redefine French identity for a new generation of French citizens living in the outskirts of Paris whose parents were born in the former colonies. This new genre of fiction deals with daily life in the French banlieue, but also tackles themes that are linked to France's colonial past in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Maghreb and the French Caribbean among others. It is precisely the transmission of this colonial past that contributes to a new configuration in French society. Chapter One deals with the history of the French suburbs, dwelling especially on the banlieue as a sociological space, which is often portrayed negatively in the media. Chapter Two shows the importance of Beur literature as a precursor of urban literature. Chapter Three considers the banlieue as an internal colony and argues that the development of postcolonial studies in France was triggered by the situation of descendants of colonial subjects living in the margins of the capital. Chapter Four deals with urban novels written by Franco-Maghrebi women. Asserting that women describe the banlieue in a more intimate way than their male counterparts, this chapter demonstrates the importance of events like October 17th 1961 and the necessity to rewrite French history. The last chapter delves into the question of blackness in urban literature and the place of minorities from Africa and the French Caribbean in contemporary French society.