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The fascinating history of Isabeau of Bavaria is a tale of two queens. During her lifetime, Isabeau, the long-suffering wife of mad King Charles VI of France, was respected and revered. After her death, she was reviled as an incompetent regent, depraved adulteress, and betrayer of the throne. Asserting that there is no historical support for this posthumous reputation, Tracy Adams returns Isabeau to her rightful place in history. Adulteress and traitor—two charges long leveled against the queen—are the first subjects of Adam’s reinterpretation of medieval French history. Scholars have concluded that the myths of Isabeau’s scandalous past are just that: rumors that evolved after her death in the context of a political power struggle. Unfortunately, this has not prevented the lies from finding their way into respected studies on the period. Adams’s own work serves as a corrective, rehabilitating the reputation of the good queen and exploring the larger topic of memory and the creation of myth. Adams next challenges the general perception that the queen lacked political acumen. With her husband incapacitated by insanity, Isabeau was forced to rule a country ripped apart by feuding, power-hungry factions. Adams argues that Isabeau handled her role astutely in such a contentious environment, preserving the monarchy from the incursions of the king’s powerful male relatives. Taking issue with history’s harsh treatment of a woman who ruled under difficult circumstances, Adams convincingly recasts Isabeau as a respected and competent queen.
Authorship and Modernity in the Old Regime
A central theme in the history of Old Regime authorship highlights the opportunities offered by a growing book trade to writers seeking to free themselves from patrons and live "by the pen." Accounts of this passage from patronage to market have explored in far greater detail the opportunities themselves—the rising sums paid by publishers and the progression of laws protecting literary property—than how and why writers would have seized on them, no doubt because the choice to do so has seemed an obvious or natural one for writers assumed to prefer economic self-sufficiency over elite protection.
In The Literary Market, Geoffrey Turnovsky claims that there was nothing obvious or natural about the choice. Writers had been involved in commercial book publication since the earliest days of the printing press, yet had not necessarily linked these activities with their freedom to think and write. The association of autonomy and professionalism was forged, not given. Analyzing the literary market as a key articulation of the association, Turnovsky explores how in eighteenth-century polemics a rhetoric of commercial authorship came to signify independence for intellectuals. He finds the roots of the connection not in the claims of entrepreneurial writers to rights and income but in a world to which that of the modern author has been contrasted: the aristocratic culture of the seventeenth century. Aristocratic culture, he argues, generated a disparaging view of the professional author as one defined by activities tainting him or her as greedy and arrogant and therefore unworthy of protection and socially isolated. The Literary Market examines the story of the "birth of the author" in terms of the revalorization of this negative trope in Enlightenment-era debates about the radically changing role of writers in society.
The Emergence of French Social History, 1815–1970
Today’s interest in social history and private life is often seen as a twentieth-century innovation. Most often Lucien Febvre and the Annales school in France are credited with making social history a widely accepted way for historians to approach the past. In Lost Worlds historian Jonathan Dewald shows that we need to look back further in time, into the nineteenth century, when numerous French intellectuals developed many of the key concepts that historians employ today.According to Dewald, we need to view Febvre and other Annales historians as participants in an ongoing cultural debate over the shape and meanings of French history, rather than as inventors of new topics of study. He closely examines the work of Charles-Augustin Sainte-Beuve, Hippolyte Taine, the antiquarian Alfred Franklin, Febvre himself, the twentieth-century historian Philippe Ariès, and several others. A final chapter compares specifically French approaches to social history with those of German historians between 1930 and 1970. Through such close readings Dewald looks beyond programmatic statements of historians’ intentions to reveal how history was actually practiced during these years.A bold work of intellectual history, Lost Worlds sheds much-needed light on how contemporary ideas about the historian’s task came into being. Understanding this larger context enables us to appreciate the ideological functions performed by historical writing through the twentieth century.
Healing and Love Magic in Old French Romance
What is love? Popular culture bombards us with notions of the intoxicating capacities of love or of beguiling women who can bewitch or heal—to the point that it is easy to believe that such images are timeless and universal. Not so, argues Laine Doggett in Love Cures. Aspects of love that are expressed in popular music—such as “love is a drug,” “sexual healing,” and “love potion number nine”—trace deep roots to Old French romance of the high Middle Ages. A young woman heals a poisoned knight. A mother prepares a love potion for a daughter who will marry a stranger in a faraway land. How can readers interpret such events? In contrast to scholars who have dismissed these women as fantasy figures or labeled them “witches,” Doggett looks at them in the light of medical and magical practices of the high Middle Ages. Love Cures argues that these practitioners, as represented in romance, have shaped modern notions of love. Love Cures seeks to engage scholars of love, marriage, and magic in disciplines as diverse as literature, history, anthropology, and philosophy.
Socialism, Nationalism, and National Socialism during the French Fin de Siecle
Post-Marxists argue that nationalism is the black hole into which Marxism has collapsed at today’s “end of history.” Robert Stuart analyzes the origins of this implosion, revealing a shattering collision between Marxist socialism and national identity in France at the close of the nineteenth century. During the time of the Boulanger crisis and the Dreyfus affair, nationalist mobs roamed the streets chanting “France for the French!” while socialist militants marshaled proletarians for world revolution. This is the first study to focus on those militants as they struggled to reconcile Marxism’s two national agendas: the cosmopolitan conviction that “workingmen have no country,” on the one hand, and the patriotic assumption that the working class alone represents national authenticity, on the other. Anti-Semitism posed a particular problem for such socialists, not least because so many workers had succumbed to racist temptation. In analyzing the resultant encounter between France’s anti-Semites and the Marxist Left, Stuart addresses the vexed issue of Marxism’s involvement with political anti-Semitism.
Dissecting the Doctor in French Narrative Prose, 1857-1894
The literati's enthrallment with medicine and their subservient adoption of a medical model in the creation of their plots and characters have not previously been seriously questioned. In Medical Examinations, Mary Donaldson-Evans corrects this oversight. Exploring six novels and two short stories published during the Second Empire and the early Third Republic, she argues that there was a growing resistance to medicine's linguistic and professional hegemony, a resistance fraught with ideological implications. Tainted by a subtle—and sometimes not so subtle—anti-Semitism, some of the fiction of this period adopts counterdiscursive strategies to tar the physician with his own brush. Featured authors include Gustave Flaubert, Edmond and Jules Goncourt, Emile Zola, Joris-Karl Huysmans, Guy de Maupassant, and Alphonse and Léon Daudet.
The "I" of the Text
In Medieval Autographies, A. C. Spearing develops a new engagement of narrative theory with medieval English first-person writing, focusing on the roles and functions of the “I” as a shifting textual phenomenon, not to be defined either as autobiographical or as the label of a fictional speaker or narrator. Spearing identifies and explores a previously unrecognized category of medieval English poetry, calling it "autography.” He describes this form as emerging in the mid-fourteenth century and consisting of extended nonlyrical writings in the first person, embracing prologues, authorial interventions in and commentaries on third-person narratives, and descendants of the dit, a genre of French medieval poetry. He argues that autography arose as a means of liberation from the requirement to tell stories with preordained conclusions and as a way of achieving a closer relation to lived experience, with all its unpredictability and inconsistencies. Autographies, he claims, are marked by a cluster of characteristics including a correspondence to the texture of life as it is experienced, a montage-like unpredictability of structure, and a concern with writing and textuality. Beginning with what may be the earliest extended first-person narrative in Middle English, Winner and Waster, the book examines instances of the dit as discussed by French scholars, analyzes Chaucer’s Wife of Bath’s Prologue as a textual performance, and devotes separate chapters to detailed readings of Hoccleve’s Regement of Princes prologue, his Complaint and Dialogue, and the witty first-person elements in Osbern Bokenham’s legends of saints. An afterword suggests possible further applications of the concept of autography, including discussion of the intermittent autographic commentaries on the narrative in Troilus and Criseyde and Capgrave’s Life of Saint Katherine.
Spectacle and Political Culture in Modern France
In France, both political culture and theatrical performances have drawn upon melodrama. This "melodramatic thread" helped weave the country's political life as it moved from monarchy to democracy. By examining the relationship between public ceremonies and theatrical performance, James R. Lehning sheds light on democratization in modern France. He explores the extent to which the dramatic forms were present in the public performance of political power. By concentrating on the Republic and the Revolution and on theatrical performance, Lehning affirms the importance of examining the performative aspects of French political culture for understanding the political differences that have marked France in the years since 1789.