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Toward a Critique of (Post)colonial Expression
The relationship between power and language has been a central theme in critical theory for decades now, yet there is still much to be learned about the sheer force of language in the world in which we live. In Empire of Language, Laurent Dubreuil explores the power-language phenomenon in the context of European and, particularly, French colonialism and its aftermath. Through readings of the colonial experience, he isolates a phraseology based on possession, in terms of both appropriation and haunting, that has persisted throughout the centuries. Not only is this phraseology a legacy of the past, it is still active today, especially in literary renderings of the colonial experience-but also, and more paradoxically, in anticolonial discourse. This phrase shaped the teaching of European languages in the (former) empires, and it tried to configure the usage of those idioms by the "Indigenes." Then, scholarly disciplines have to completely reconsider their discursive strategies about the colonial, if, at least, they attempt to speak up.
Dubreuil ranges widely in terms of time and space, from the ancien régime through the twentieth century, from Paris to Haiti to Quebec, from the Renaissance to the riots in the banlieues. He examines diverse texts, from political speeches, legal documents, and colonial treatises to anthropological essays, poems of the Négritude, and contemporary rap, ever attuned to the linguistic strategies that undergird colonial power. Equally conversant in both postcolonial criticism and poststructuralist scholarship on language, but also deeply grounded in the sociohistorical context of the colonies, Dubreuil sets forth the conditions for an authentically postcolonial scholarship, one that acknowledges the difficulty of getting beyond a colonialism-and still maintains the need for an afterward.
Academic Prize Contests and Intellectual Culture in France, 1670–1794
Public academic prize contests-the concours académique-played a significant role in the intellectual life of Enlightenment France, with aspirants formulating positions on such matters as slavery, poverty, the education of women, tax reform, and urban renewal and submitting the resulting essays for scrutiny by panels of judges. In The Enlightenment in Practice, Jeremy L. Caradonna draws on archives both in Paris and the provinces to show that thousands of individuals-ranging from elite men and women of letters artisans, and peasants-participated in these intellectual competitions, a far broader range of people than has been previously assumed.
Caradonna contends that the Enlightenment in France can no longer be seen as a cultural movement restricted to a small coterie of philosophers or a limited number of printed texts. Moreover, Caradonna demonstrates that the French monarchy took academic competitions quite seriously, sponsoring numerous contests on such practical matters as deforestation, the quality of drinking water, and the nighttime illumination of cities. In some cases, the contests served as an early mechanism for technology transfer: the state used submissions to identify technical experts to whom it could turn for advice. Finally, the author shows how this unique intellectual exercise declined during the upheavals of the French Revolution, when voicing moderate public criticism became a rather dangerous act.
Divine and Literary Judgment in Fourteenth-Century French Poetry
Eschatological Subjects: Divine and Literary Judgment in Fourteenth-Century French Poetry takes an innovative approach to medieval eschatology by examining how poets cast themselves in the scene of judgment as defendants summoned to answer to the Almighty for the sins of their writing. Since medieval Europeans lived in perpetual anxiety of divine judgment, constantly surrounded by reminders in art and literature, author J. M. Moreau shows that this is a natural extension of medieval life. But Eschatological Subjects goes even further to demonstrate the largely unrecognized duality of this judge figure: not just God, the judge is also the imperious and imperfect human reader. The simultaneous divine and human judgments in (and of) French poetry reveal much about the ethical stakes of writing vernacular poetry in the later Middle Ages and importantly about the relationships between authors and audiences. Focusing on Guillaume de Deguileville, Guillaume de Machaut, and Jean Froissart (each of whom composed scenes in which they appear on trial before God), Moreau contributes important new insights on the complex “trial process” of later medieval literature, in which poetic authority and fame depended on the poet’s ability to defend himself before a fearful court of reader opinion.
Vol. 36 (1996) through current issue
Exploring all periods of French literature and thought, l'esprit créateur has been analyzing and documenting contemporary French and Francophone Studies for half a century. Contributors represent a variety of methodologies and critical approaches, and address literature, film, criticism, and culture.
"J.J. was born for music," Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote of himself, "not to be consumed in its execution, but to speed its progress and make discoveries about it. His ideas on the art and about the art are fertile, inexhaustible." Rousseau was a practicing musician and theorist for years before publication of his first Discourse, but until now scholars have neglected these ideas.
This graceful translation remedies both those failings by bringing together the Essay, which John T. Scott says "most clearly displays the juncture between Rousseau's musical theory and his major philosophical works," with a comprehensive selection of the musical writings. Many of the latter are responses to authors like Rameau, Grimm, and Raynal, and a unique feature of this edition is the inclusion of writings by these authors to help establish the historical and ideological contexts of Rousseau's writings and the intellectual exchanges of which they are a part.
With an introduction that provides historical background, traces the development of Rousseau's musical theory, and shows that these writings are not an isolated part of his oeuvre but instead are animated by the same "system," this volume fashions a much-needed portal through which literary scholars, musicologists, historians, and political theorists can enter into an important but hitherto overlooked chamber of Rousseau's vast intellectual palace.
Practicing Prejudice in French Law and Medicine, 1920-1945
In the 1930s, the French Third Republic banned naturalized citizens from careers in law and medicine for up to ten years after they had obtained French nationality. In 1940, the Vichy regime permanently expelled all lawyers and doctors born of foreign fathers and imposed a 2 percent quota on Jews in both professions. On the basis of extensive archival research, Julie Fette shows in Exclusions that doctors and lawyers themselves, despite their claims to embody republican virtues, persuaded the French state to enact this exclusionary legislation. At the crossroads of knowledge and power, lawyers and doctors had long been dominant forces in French society: they ran hospitals and courts, doubled as university professors, held posts in parliament and government, and administered justice and public health for the nation. Their social and political influence was crucial in spreading xenophobic attitudes and rendering them more socially acceptable in France.
Fette traces the origins of this professional protectionism to the late nineteenth century, when the democratization of higher education sparked efforts by doctors and lawyers to close ranks against women and the lower classes in addition to foreigners. The legislatively imposed delays on the right to practice law and medicine remained in force until the 1970s, and only in 1997 did French lawyers and doctors formally recognize their complicity in the anti-Semitic policies of the Vichy regime. Fette's book is a powerful contribution to the argument that French public opinion favored exclusionary measures in the last years of the Third Republic and during the Holocaust.
Madame Guyon, Fénelon, and Their Readers
In this study of Madame Guyon and, her defender, Francois de Fénelon, the Archbishop of Cambray, Patricia Ward demonstrates how the ideas of these seventeenth-century Catholics were transmitted into an ongoing tradition of Protestant devotional literature—one that continues to influence American evangelicals and charismatic Christians today. Down a winding (and fascinating) historical path, Ward traces how the lives and writings of these two somewhat obscure Catholic believers in Quietism came to such prominence in American spirituality—offering, in part, a fascinating glance at the role of women in the history of devotional writing.
Unmasking the Truth in La Rochefoucauld
Falsehood Disguised analyzes La Rochefoucauld's ideas on truth and falsehood in the context of his views on self-love, on the passions, and on vice and virtue. It also explores his views on the subject in relation to what he sees as the extremely fragile foundations of the social contract.
Consumption and Design in Seventeenth-Century France
As the epicenters of style and innovation, the cities of Paris and Versailles dominate studies of consumerism in seventeenth-century France, but little scholarship exists on the material culture, fashion, and consumption patterns in the provinces. Donna J. Bohanan’s Fashion beyond Versailles fills this historiographical gap by examining the household inventories of French nobles and elites in the southern province of Dauphiné. Much more than a simple study of the decorative arts, Fashion beyond Versailles investigates the meaning of material ownership. By examining postmortem registries and archival publications, Bohanan reveals the social imperatives, local politics, and high fashion trends that spurred the consumption patterns of provincial communities. In doing so, she reveals a closer relationship between consumer behavior of Versailles and the provinces than most historians have maintained. Far-reaching in its sociological and psychological implications, Fashion beyond Versailles both makes use of and contributes to the burgeoning literature on material culture, fashion, and consumption.