Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

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  • Henri-Gabriel Ibels: Fanfare for the Working Man

    Author:
    Gorica Hadzic
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    French
    Advisor:
    Francesca Sautman
    Abstract:

    This dissertation concerns the work of the artist Henry-Gabriel Ibels (1867-1936), and examines why, having been a founding member of the Nabis, an avant-garde group of painters active in the nineteenth century in Paris, having made major inroads in developing the relationship between art and text in modern terms, and having attained significant acclaim in his day, Ibels became, in subsequent decades, a virtual unknown. This neglect was so patent that contemporaries with whom he worked, like André Antoine, completely erased his role from the record and even attributed his work to others. I examine his important contribution to the artistic culture of his time in relation to the twists and turns of his public fame, and argue that it was largely because of his consistently leftist politics, that marked many of his artistic choices, that he was thus isolated from his original affinity group, the Nabis, and almost cut out of their history. Ibels's contemporaries enjoyed his art and his talent almost on a daily basis, and critics compared his rare attention to life and movement to that of the great masters, Leonardo da Vinci and Rembrandt, as well as to his contemporaries Daumier and Degas. This shows that Ibels's contemporaries were responsive to his aesthetics and recognized that his art was representative of the new visual perspective that proved to be as significant in its own time as any other intellectual manifestation. This dissertation examines numerous articles and mentions which prove that Ibels's contemporaries also recognized his ideological and artistic contributions to the art of painting, poster design, theater, and caricature, as well as the fact that succeeding in all of these genres is reserved to only a few of the greatest talents.

  • The Obscene Bachelor: Humor and Horror in Guy de Maupassant's Writings

    Author:
    Benjamin Hamilton
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    French
    Advisor:
    Julia Przybos
    Abstract:

    Guy de Maupassant's fictional works present a caravan of characters of a rare eclecticism: unhappily married women, privileged single men, hardy peasants, urban prostitutes and some indomitable free spirits. Such a range of characters distinguishes his fiction from that of his contemporaries, including the naturalists. Yet Maupassant's social and professional life was also different. A lifelong bachelor, he eschewed notions of marriage and family, reveling in a bachelor milieu that was parts bourgeois, bohemian and libertine. This dissertation seeks to approach Maupassant's own bachelor milieu as an important factor -- and marker -- in his fictional imaginary. His bachelor cosmos, with its many erotic and worldly aspects, will also be explored and analyzed.

  • Global Wreckage and Consumer Illusions: Responses to the Human Effects of Economic Globalization in Sub-Saharan African Francophone Novels and Films, 1973-2006

    Author:
    Sara Hanaburgh
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    French
    Advisor:
    Francesca Sautman
    Abstract:

    My study examines a group of nine novels and films set in Ivory Coast, Mali, Senegal, Cameroon and Gabon written and produced between 1973 and 2006 in which "the West" and its international finance network are depicted as the fundamental contemporary world power that wields a destructive dominance over African countries. These forms of control are in many ways similar, yet distinct, from the projects of European imperialism. I analyze consumerism as a major feature of globalization, and discuss the linkage of globalization and the consumer society by looking at various theoretical models, in particular that which Jean Baudrillard conceptualized as a stand-in for democracy. I also consider the connection between globalization and imposed cultural uniformity, which African novels and films denounce as promoting a system of cultural superiority and submission. Further, the most extreme effects of globalization reinforce notions of a sexualized, racialized or ethnicized other. In response authors and filmmakers bring out themes such as migration/immigration, the objectification of the body--particularly of women--and the eruption of communal violence. Visual imagery in the novel and silence and voice in film are exemplary of how the two media create a common response that resists contemporary globalization. The dissertation thus examines what has emerged as one set of issues with which writers and filmmakers engage in their reflections on and responses to globalization.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.