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Identity and Uprising in Contemporary France
In 2005, following the death of two youths of African origin, France erupted in a wave of violent protest. More than 10,000 automobiles were burned or stoned, hundreds of public buildings were vandalized or burned to the ground, and hundreds of people were injured. Charles Tshimanga, Didier Gondola, Peter J. Bloom, and a group of international scholars seek to understand the causes and consequences of these momentous events, while examining how the concept of Frenchness has been reshaped by the African diaspora in France and the colonial legacy.
In Friendship and Politics in Post-Revolutionary France, Sarah Horowitz brings together the political and cultural history of post-revolutionary France to illuminate how French society responded to and recovered from the upheaval of the French Revolution. The Revolution led to a heightened sense of distrust and divided the nation along ideological lines. In the wake of the Terror, many began to express concerns about the atomization of French society. Friendship, though, was regarded as one bond that could restore trust and cohesion. Friends relied on each other to serve as confidantes and men and women described friendship as a site of both pleasure and connection. Because trust and cohesion were necessary to the functioning of post-revolutionary parliamentary life, politicians turned to friends and ideas about friendship to create this solidarity. Relying on detailed analyses of politicians’ social networks, new tools from arising from the digital humanities, and examinations of their behind-the-scenes political transactions, Horowitz makes clear the connection between politics and emotions in the early nineteenth century, and she reevaluates the role of women in political life by showing the ways in which the personal was the political in the post-revolutionary era.
Ethics, Poetics, and Politics
In 2007 the French newspaper Le Monde published a manifesto titled “Toward a ‘World Literature’ in French,” signed by forty-four writers, many from France’s former colonies. Proclaiming that the francophone label encompassed people who had little in common besides the fact that they all spoke French, the manifesto’s proponents, the so-called francophone writers themselves, sought to energize a battle cry against the discriminatory effects and prescriptive claims of francophonie.
In one of the first books to study the movement away from the term “francophone” to “world literature in French,” Thérèse Migraine-George engages a literary analysis of contemporary works in exploring the tensions and theoretical debates surrounding world literature in French. She focuses on works by a diverse group of contemporary French-speaking writers who straddle continents—Nina Bouraoui, Hélène Cixous, Maryse Condé, Marie NDiaye, Tierno Monénembo, and Lyonel Trouillot. What these writers have in common beyond their use of French is their resistance to the centralizing power of a language, their rejection of exclusive definitions, and their claim for creative autonomy.
French Romanticism and the Cultural Politics of Archaeology
In the early nineteenth century, as amateur archaeologists excavated Pompeii, Egypt, Assyria, and the first prehistoric sites, a myth arose of archaeology as a magical science capable of unearthing and reconstructing worlds thought to be irretrievably lost. This timely myth provided an urgent antidote to the French anxiety of amnesia that undermined faith in progress, and it armed writers from Chateaubriand and Hugo to Michelet and Renan with the intellectual tools needed to affirm the indestructible character of the past.
From Paris to Pompeii reveals how the nascent science of archaeology lay at the core of the romantic experience of history and shaped the way historians, novelists, artists, and the public at large sought to cope with the relentless change that relegated every new present to history.
In postrevolutionary France, the widespread desire to claim that no being, city, culture, or language was ever definitively erased ran much deeper than mere nostalgic and reactionary impulses. Göran Blix contends that this desire was the cornerstone of the substitution of a weak secular form of immortality for the lost certainties of the Christian afterlife. Taking the iconic city of Pompeii as its central example, and ranging widely across French romantic culture, this book examines the formation of a modern archaeological gaze and analyzes its historical ontology, rhetoric of retrieval, and secular theology of memory, before turning to its broader political implications.
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.
Violence, Intimacy, and Community in Fin-de-Siècle Paris
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.
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.
A Walk across Corsica
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.
Lermontov, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy