Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

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  • Gide in the First Person: the "I" of Religion and Same-Sex Sexual Desire

    Author:
    John Sorrentino
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    French
    Advisor:
    Royal Brown
    Abstract:

    André Gide's works are marked by a continual struggle what he perceived as the incompatible nature between his homosexuality and the religious morality that excluded it. This dissertation examines the ways in which André Gide deals with this struggle, and how through his fiction, he negotiates the lines between a belief in God and his personal sense of sexual otherness, while trying to achieve an authentic voice that mitigated the two. Drawing from a range of theory and criticism from Gide studies and Queer studies, this work analyzes the themes of sexuality and religion in a range of Gide's works from the mid 1890s through 1925, including Les Nourritures terrestres, Paludes, Le Prométhée mal-enchaîné, Les Caves du Vatican, L'Immoraliste, Le Retour de l'Enfant Prodigue, La Porte étroite, La Symphonie pastorale, and Les Faux-monnayeurs. Within the corpus of Gide's work, a timeline is revealed of the fluctuation between Gide's exaltation and his disenchantment as he contemplated - either in the first person or through his characters - issues of God and sex, of pleasure and suffering. Sexuality and religion are inter-reliant factors that work sometimes to negate each other, other times to reinforce each other, revealing a complexity both of the author and his texts. This dissertation explores the relationships between religion and same-sex desire and finds the links that exist between his religious thought and the "I"/"je" of his desire, as Gide, throughout his body of work, negotiates the uncertain landscape of creating a queer "discourse" and finding within it a sense of personal authenticity both with regard to his religious beliefs and his same-sex desire.

  • The Algerian War Era Through a Twenty-First Century Lens: French Films 2005-2007

    Author:
    Nicole Wallenbrock
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    French
    Advisor:
    Jerry Carlson
    Abstract:

    Abstract THE ALGERIAN WAR ERA THROUGH A TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY LENS: FRENCH FILMS 2005-2007 by Nicole Beth Wallenbrock This dissertation addresses French films made between 2005 and 2007 in which the Algerian War serves as a cinematic subject and setting. The Algerian War as a film genre has never been more significant than post-2005; in fact, ten films (either set during the war or that make important reference to the conflict) were made between 2005 and 2007, more than in any previous decade. My project thus examines the reasons for the frequency of the Algerian War in cinema during this time period. The policies of Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy, the rise of second and third-generation North-African immigrants, and the revelation through recent literature and media of previously unknown acts of torture that took place during the Algerian War increased interest in the subject. I investigate how these historical phenomena surface directly and indirectly in contemporary cinema, revealing the current place of the Algerian War in the popular imagination. In chapter 1, I generally discuss all Algerian-War films before 2005, presenting the New Wave as a development concurrent with the war in a study of Le petit soldat (made in 1960 released in 1963) and Muriel ou le temps d'un retours (1963). The chapter concludes with an investigation of the reception of the Italian-Algerian production La Battaglia di Algeri (1966) in France. In the following three chapters, I place recent films in thematic pairs: Chapter 2 The PTSD flashback: Caché (2005) and Mon Colonel (2006), Chapter 3 Victim or Perpetrator?: L'ennemi intime (2007) and La trahison (2005), Chapter 4 The Child Immigrant and the Child Witness: Michou d'Auber (2007) and Les Cartouches Gauloises (2007). These films alter, amplify, and adjust the meaning of the war period to correspond to recent historical findings and a changing political climate in the twenty-first century. As a multicultural French population confronts the legacy of colonialism with growing magnitude in the streets, the classrooms, and courts, a study of the concurrent cinema is imperative. These films represent a discourse in which memory and nationalism intersect, critiquing the past and present.

  • Made in Marseille: Global Youth and Cosmopolitan Identities

    Author:
    Chong Wojtkowski
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    French
    Advisor:
    Francesca Sautman
    Abstract:

    This dissertation argues for the significance of hip-hop musical culture in the reformulation of French identity by socio-economic, ethnic, and racial minorities. Indeed, these groups, particularly the youth within them, are vigorously reassessing, refiguring and challenging the ways French identity is affirmed through an ensemble of dominant, mainstream discourses. Through the analysis of song lyrics, visual imagery employed in CD inserts/booklets, music videos, and strategies for promotion and production, I argue that Marseille hip hoppers active from the early 1990s to 2010 have used audio-visual modes as discursive tools to articulate hybrid cosmopolitan identities that contest essentialist notions of identity solely or primarily defined on the basis of the nation-state. The cosmopolitan city of Marseille, with its long tradition of emphasizing its difference from the rest of France, is my focus as the urban site that gives its voice to the youth culture at the center of my thesis. I thus investigate how Marseille rappers espouse a regionalist discourse that casts the transnational space of the Mediterranean, including Southern Europe and North Africa, as the locus of their negotiation of identity while affirming difference from a purportedly homogenous national center. Rather than being isolated from their context, rap lyrics must be read in tandem with the music, images, and production, for intertextual readings give a fuller picture of who the artist is, and what messages lie in the text. Thus, I view the entire practice of hip-hop--not just the texts--as a privileged site of identification and self-construction for the rappers, and suggest that they follow a strategy of autobiographical performance writing. The bulk of the dissertation is therefore devoted to autobiographical readings of hip hop texts and images in order to underscore the ways in which identity is articulated through the disengagement from and contesting of existing racial, ethnic, and class constructs in contemporary French society. I propose that a preferable framework for the analysis of youth identities in Marseille is global cosmopolitanism. This aptly describes the choice of rootedness in Marseille simultaneously with the rejection of the binary conception of identity that is so unique to France. This project's goal is to validate the notion of a "French cultural reach," which hybridizes notions of place, space, nation, and ethnicity, without locking Marseille hip hoppers within the dichotomy of French/Other.