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Future Tense Cover

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Future Tense

The Culture of Anticipation in France between the Wars

In the years between the world wars, French intellectuals, politicians, and military leaders came to see certain encounters-between human and machine, organic and artificial, national and international culture-as premonitions of a future that was alternately unsettling and utopian. Skyscrapers, airplanes, and gas masks were seen as traces in the present of a future world, its technologies, and its possible transformations. In Future Tense, Roxanne Panchasi illuminates both the anxieties and the hopes of a period when many French people-traumatized by what their country had already suffered-seemed determined to anticipate and shape the future.

Future Tense, which features many compelling illustrations, depicts experts proposing the prosthetic enhancement of the nation's bodies and homes; architects discussing whether skyscrapers should be banned from Paris; military strategists creating a massive fortification network, the Maginot Line; and French delegates to the League of Nations declaring their opposition to the artificial international language Esperanto.

Drawing on a wide range of sources, Panchasi explores representations of the body, the city, and territorial security, as well as changing understandings of a French civilization many believed to be threatened by Americanization. Panchasi makes clear that memories of the past-and even nostalgia for what might be lost in the future-were crucial features of the culture of anticipation that emerged in the interwar period.

Gender and Justice Cover

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Gender and Justice

Violence, Intimacy, and Community in Fin-de-Siècle Paris

Eliza Earle Ferguson

Historian Eliza Earle Ferguson’s meticulously researched study of domestic violence among the working class in France uncovers the intimate details of daily life and the complex workings of court proceedings in fin-de-siècle Paris. With detective-like methods, Ferguson pores through hundreds of court records to understand why so many perpetrators of violent crime were fully acquitted. She finds that court verdicts depended on community standards for violence between couples. Her search uncovers voluminous testimony from witnesses, defendants, and victims documenting the conflicts and connections among men and women who struggled to balance love, desire, and economic need in their relationships. Ferguson's detailed analysis of these cases enables her to reconstruct the social, cultural, and legal conditions in which they took place. Her ethnographic approach offers unprecedented insight into the daily lives of nineteenth-century Parisians, revealing how they chose their partners, what they fought about, and what drove them to violence. In their battles over money and sex, couples were in effect testing, stretching, and enforcing gender roles. Gender and Justice will interest social and legal historians for its explanation of how the working class of fin-de-siècle Paris went about their lives and navigated the judicial system. Gender studies scholars will find Ferguson’s analysis of the construction of gender particularly trenchant.

The Hero's Place Cover

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The Hero's Place

medieval literary traditions of space and belonging

Molly Robinson Kelly

The Hero's Place presents an innovative study of how the spaces described in a literary work contribute dynamically and profoundly to that work's meaning.

The Holy Bureaucrat Cover

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The Holy Bureaucrat

Eudes Rigaud and Religious Reform in Thirteenth-Century Normandy

In a book that offers a fresh perspective on the complex relationship between thirteenth-century institutional power and evangelical devotion, Adam J. Davis explores the fascinating career of Eudes Rigaud, the Franciscan theologian at the University of Paris and archbishop of Rouen. Eudes's Register, a daybook that he kept for twenty-one years, paints a vivid picture of ecclesiastical life in thirteenth-century Normandy. It records the archbishop's visits to monasteries, convents, hospitals, and country parishes, where he sought to correct a wide range of problems, from clerics who were unchaste, who gambled, and who got drunk, to monasteries that were financially mismanaged and priests who did not know how to conjugate simple Latin verbs.

Davis describes the collision between the world as it was and as Eudes Rigaud wished it to be, as well as the mechanisms that the archbishop used in trying to transform the world he found. The Holy Bureaucrat also reconstructs the multifaceted man behind the Register, reuniting Eudes Rigaud the intellectual, Franciscan preacher, church reformer, judge, financial manager, and trusted councillor to King Louis IX. The book traces the growth of a complex bureaucracy in Normandy that insisted on discipline and accountability and relied on new kinds of written administrative records. The result is an absorbing study of the interplay between religious values and practices, institutions and individuals during the age of Saint Louis.

Honorable Bandit Cover

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Honorable Bandit

A Walk across Corsica

Brian Bouldrey

Brian Bouldrey traveled to the island of Corsica, with its wine-dark Mediterranean waters, powdered-sugar beach sand, sumptuous cuisine, and fine wine. And then he walked away from all of them.
     Bouldrey strapped on a backpack and walked across Napoleon's native land with the same spirit many choose to dance or drink: to celebrate, to mourn, to think, to avoid thinking, to recall, to ignore, to escape, and to arrive.
     This wonderfully textured account of a two-week ramble along a famous Corsican hiking trail with his German friend Petra (she was good at the downhills while he was better at the uphills) offers readers a journal that is a launching point for reflection: thoughts on cultural differences, friendship, physical challenge, personal challenge, and getting very, very lost. Part travelogue, part memoir, and part lampoon, this book offers readers an impressionistic view of a little talked about yet stunningly beautiful landscape.

 

Best Books for General Audiences, selected by the American Association of School Librarians and the Public Library Association
 
Runner-up, Best Travel Book, National Association of Travel Journalists

How the Russians Read the French Cover

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How the Russians Read the French

Lermontov, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy

Priscilla Meyer

Russian writers of the nineteenth century were quite consciously creating a new national literary tradition. They saw themselves self-consciously through Western European eyes, at once admiring Europe and feeling inferior to it. This ambivalence was perhaps most keenly felt in relation to France, whose language and culture had shaped the world of the Russian aristocracy from the time of Catherine the Great.
            In How the Russians Read the French, Priscilla Meyer shows how Mikhail Lermontov, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and Lev Tolstoy engaged with French literature and culture to define their own positions as Russian writers with specifically Russian aesthetic and moral values. Rejecting French sensationalism and what they perceived as a lack of spirituality among Westerners, these three writers attempted to create moral and philosophical works of art that drew on sources deemed more acceptable to a Russian worldview, particularly Pushkin and the Gospels. Through close readings of A Hero of Our Time, Crime and Punishment, and Anna Karenina, Meyer argues that each of these great Russian authors takes the French tradition as a thesis, proposes his own antithesis, and creates in his novel a synthesis meant to foster a genuinely Russian national tradition, free from imitation of Western models.
 
Winner, University of Southern California Book Prize in Literary and Cultural Studies, American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies

The Huguenots and French Opinion, 1685-1787 Cover

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The Huguenots and French Opinion, 1685-1787

The Enlightenment Debate on Toleration

The decision of Louis XIV to revoke the Edict of Nantes and thus liquidate French Calvinism was well received in the intellectual community which was deeply prejudiced against the Huguenots. This antipathy would gradually disappear. After the death of the Sun King, a more sympathetic view of the Protestant minority was presented to French readers by leading thinkers such as Montesquieu, the abbé Prévost, and Voltaire. By the middle years of the eighteenth century, liberal clerics, lawyers, and government ministers joined Encyclopedists in urging the emancipation of the Reformed who were seen to be loyal, peaceable and productive. Then, in 1787, thanks to intensive lobbying by a group which included Malesherbes, Lafayette, and the future revolutionary Rabaut Saint-Étienne, the government of Louis XVI issued an edict of toleration which granted the Huguenots a modest bill of civil and religious rights.

Adams’ illuminating work treats a major chapter in the history of toleration; it explores in depth a fascinating shift in mentalités, and it offers a new focus on the process of “reform from above” in pre-Revolutionary France.

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The Information Master

Jean-Baptiste Colbert's Secret State Intelligence System

Jacob Soll

Colbert has long been celebrated as Louis XIV's minister of finance, trade, and industry. More recently, he has been viewed as his minister of culture and propaganda. In this lively and persuasive book, Jake Soll has given us a third Colbert, the information manager. ---Peter Burke, University of Cambridge "Jacob Soll gives us a road map drawn from the French state under Colbert. With a stunning attention to detail Colbert used knowledge in the service of enhancing royal power. Jacob Soll's scholarship is impeccable and his story long overdue and compelling." ---Margaret Jacob, University of California, Los Angeles "Nowadays we all know that information is the key to power, and that the masters of information rule the world. Jacob Soll teaches us that Jean-Baptiste Colbert had grasped this principle three and a half centuries ago, and used it to construct a new kind of state. This imaginative, erudite, and powerfully written book re-creates the history of libraries and archives in early modern Europe, and ties them in a novel and convincing way to the new statecraft of Europe's absolute monarchs." ---Anthony Grafton, Princeton University "Brilliantly researched, superbly told, and timely, Soll's story is crucial for the history of the modern state." ---Keith Baker, Stanford University When Louis XIV asked his minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert---the man who was to oversee the building of Versailles and the Royal Academy of Sciences, as well as the navy, the Paris police force, and French industry---to build a large-scale administrative government, Colbert created an unprecedented information system for political power. In The Information Master, Jacob Soll shows how the legacy of Colbert's encyclopedic tradition lies at the very center of the rise of the modern state and was a precursor to industrial intelligence and Internet search engines. Soll's innovative look at Colbert's rise to power argues that his practice of collecting knowledge originated from techniques of church scholarship and from Renaissance Italy, where merchants recognized the power to be gained from merging scholarship, finance, and library science. With his connection of interdisciplinary approaches---regarding accounting, state administration, archives, libraries, merchant techniques, ecclesiastical culture, policing, and humanist pedagogy---Soll has written an innovative book that will redefine not only the history of the reign of Louis XIV and information science but also the study of political and economic history. Jacob Soll is Associate Professor of History at Rutgers University and the author of Publishing The Prince: History, Reading, and the Birth of Political Criticism (University of Michigan Press, 2005), and winner of the 2005 Jacques Barzun Prize from the American Philosophical Society and a 2009 Guggenheim Fellowship. Soll edited a special issue of Journal of the History of Ideas titled "The Uses of Historical Evidence in Early Modern Europe"; has cofounded the online journal Republics of Letters; and is editor, along with Anthony Grafton and Ann Blair, of the series Cultures of Knowledge in the Early Modern World. Jacket illustration: Jean Baptiste Colbert (1619–1683), Philippe de Champaigne, 1655, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Wildenstein Foundation, Inc., 1951 (51.34). Photograph © 2003 The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Interpreting Social Violence in French Culture Cover

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Interpreting Social Violence in French Culture

Buzançais, 1847-2008

Cynthia A. Bouton

In January 1847, a grain convoy passed through Buzançais, an obscure village in a remote region of central France that was suffering from hunger, high prices, and widespread unemployment. Villagers intercepted the shipment, invaded granaries and mills, and forced resale of the grain at a just price set by the people. What started as a classic subsistence movement, however, triggered two days of rioting and class hostility punctuated by uncommon property damage and death. Disorder soon spread throughout the region. The Buzançais riot quickly became an evocative symbol of the rights of the people, and stories about the riot have survived into the twenty-first century. In Interpreting Social Violence in French Culture, Cynthia A. Bouton traces how the production and marketing of the Buzançais riot story served political commentators, publishers, authors, illustrators, and local enthusiasts, enabling them to draw upon key points from the 1847 uprising to negotiate issues relevant to their own times. Bouton argues that over time, especially from the 1970s, the persistent integration of stories of social protest into a widening variety of media has helped shape French political identity as one in which the politics of the street has become as customary as the politics of political assemblies. Bouton examines representations of the riot in newspapers, novels, illustrations, popular and scholarly historical narratives, cartoons, television, local spectacles, and on the Internet. She analyzes power relations embedded in texts and in images; the ways in which texts and images complement, complicate, and contradict each other; and the ways in which history, memory, and fiction intersect. Both in 1847 and subsequently, she shows, efforts to reorder the disorder at Buzançais have exposed aspects of French social and cultural attitudes and practices. She demonstrates that the particular media employed to tell the Buzançais story both constrained and empowered the messages conveyed by textual and visual narratives of it, perhaps as much as the ideological positions of authors, illustrators, or producers. By probing the relationship between medium and story in relation to the Buzançais riot, Interpreting Social Violence in French Culture offers a new interpretation of this defining moment in French history.

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Investigating the Supernatural

From Spiritism and Occultism to Psychical Research and Metapsychics in France, 1853–1931

Sofie Lachapelle

Séances were wildly popular in France between 1850 and 1930, when members of the general public and scholars alike turned to the wondrous as a means of understanding and explaining the world. Sofie Lachapelle explores how five distinct groups attempted to use and legitimize séances: spiritists, who tried to create a new “science” concerned with the spiritual realm and the afterlife; occultists, who hoped to connect ancient revelations with contemporary science; physicians, psychiatrists, and psychologists, who developed a pathology of supernatural experiences; psychical researchers, who drew on the unexplained experiences of the public to create a new field of research; and metapsychists, who attempted to develop a new science of yet-to-be understood natural forces. Lachapelle examines the practices, aims, and level of success of these five disciplines, paying special attention to how they interacted with each other and with the world of mainstream science. Their practitioners regarded mystical phenomena worthy of serious study; most devotees—with notable exceptions of physicians, psychiatrists, and psychologists—also meant to challenge conventional science in general and French science in particular. Through these stories, Lachapelle illuminates the lively relationship between science and the supernatural in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century France and relates why this relationship ultimately led to the marginalization of psychical research and metapsychics. An enlightening and entertaining narrative that includes colorful people like "Allan Kardec"—a pseudonymous former mathematics teacher from Lyon who wrote successful works on the science of the séance and what happened after death—Investigating the Supernatural reveals the rich and vibrant diversity of unorthodox beliefs and practices that existed at the borders of the French scientific culture in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

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