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After the Revolution: Terror, Literature, and the Nation in Modern France

Deininger, Melissa A. (2009) After the Revolution: Terror, Literature, and the Nation in Modern France. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation provides a framework in which to consider how collective memory, national identity, and literature insist on a political vision of the nation. The works in question are examples of the enduring impact of pivotal events on the French literary tradition. This study takes a diachronic approach to studying literature written during moments of crisis in France. It examines works dealing with the Revolutionary Terror (1793-1794), the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871), and World War II's drôle de guerre (1940). The writers chosen for this dissertation all use the rhetoric of literature as a way to think through the crisis and imagine ways to respond to it. In particular, this study explores how fear, power, and indoctrination are used to represent ideals of French national identity and the chaos surrounding earth-shattering events. Theories of historical representation, nationalism, and event fidelity provide the framework to reveal underlying political perspectives in the works studied.The chapters of this dissertation are organized chronologically, beginning with the Terror. Within the first chapter, the focus is on the Marquis de Sade's La Philosophie dans le boudoir, particularly its fabricated political pamphlet, "Français, encore un effort si vous voulez être républicains." Sade's work is juxtaposed with that of a virtually unknown émigré writer, Louis de Bruno's Lioncel, ou l'Émigré, nouvelle historique. The next event studied is the Franco-Prussian War, and the resulting Paris Commune. Victor Hugo's Quatrevingt-Treize and Jules Vern'es Le Chemin de France are both set during the Revolutionary War, but address events taking place in nineteenth-century France. The last chapter deals with the initial period of defeat and occupation in World War II. Both Jean-Paul Sartre's Nativity play, Bariona ou le fils du tonnerre and Marc Bloch's wartime testimonial L'Étrange défaite encourage Frenchmen to continue the fight against foreign aggressors.The authors in question attempted to give the nation cultural roots, or shared lieux de mémoire, in the aftermath of traumatic events. This study shows how writers use texts to mediate chronological and ideological distance between events and to recreate what no longer exists, in hopes of defining a new way forward for the nation.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Deininger, Melissa
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairMecchia, Giuseppinamecchia@pitt.eduMECCHIA
Committee MemberLooney, Dennislooney@pitt.eduLOONEY
Committee MemberWatts,
Committee MemberBlumenfeld-Kosinski, Renaterenate@pitt.eduRENATE
Committee MemberDrescher, Seymoursyd@pitt.eduSYD
Date: 9 June 2009
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 7 January 2009
Approval Date: 9 June 2009
Submission Date: 8 April 2009
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > French
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: French History; French Literature; Nation-State
Other ID:, etd-04082009-011333
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:35
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:39


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