Thesis: ‘From now onwards, we are all French!’ – Regional Otherness and Visual Culture in France, 1659-1769.
Supervisor: Professor Katie Scott
Funded by CHASE (Consortium of the Humanities and the Arts South-East England)
Tracking the cultural exchanges along France’s expanding border during the reigns of Louis XIV and his successor Louis XV, my thesis seeks to explore the conception of France’s ‘regional’ identities as a form of cultural otherness in the early modern period. From the signing of the treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659 until the French annexation of Corsica in 1769, rulers, thinkers, soldiers, writers, artists, and a host of other historical participants in Paris and Versailles engaged in the intertwined projects of territorial expansion and asserting the notion of France as a singular cultural entity united under Bourbon rule. Studying the Franco-Spanish border, Brittany and the Atlantic West, Alsace, the Flemish North-East, the Alps, and Corsica as distinct yet interlinked geographical and micro-cultural case studies, my thesis aims to re-read the prevailing notion of French culture in the period as a reflection of the Bourbon’s desire for centralised authority. Through a deliberate ‘re-regionalisation’ of French history and culture in the period, I instead seek to understand the disruptive and challenging impact that encounters with regional people and the cultures they they represented had on supposedly centralised perceptions of French identity. By considering early modern France as a patchwork of overlapping human geographies containing historically self-defined identities, the aim of my thesis is to imagine the kingdom as a fluid and ever-changing set of cultural interactions that undermined the myth of centralised control and centralised French culture. The work of artists and other creators of visual and material culture(s) from both the perceived centres of France and its ‘regional’ sites of production are interrogated as the primary means for both communicating and forming an understanding of an evolving notion of French identity in the period through an interaction with ‘regional’ cultures. Far from being passive additions to the Bourbons’ territorial possessions as they expanded ever outwards, I argue that an engagement with geographically peripheral communities and cultures complicated and developed wider notions of what it meant to be French in the period, forcing constant reassessment of France’s geographical and cultural positionality inwards from its boundaries.
Conference Papers and Publications
Folklore in Translation: Rural Apocalypse and La Bête du Gévaudan, given at Imagining the Apocalypse (The Courtauld Institute of Art, 2019)
Alpine Identity in Transit: Marmots, Marmottes, and The Visual Culture of Savoyard Migrants in Eighteenth Century Paris, given at the annual ASECS (American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies) conference (Baltimore, 2022)
‘Nothing exists there, so to speak, and everything remains to be established’: Representation and Regional Identity in the French Annexation of Corsica, 1769, given at The Courtauld Institute of Art’s third-year PhD symposium (2022)
“Monstrous Ecology: Regional Iconographies and Bourbon Authority in Depictions of the Beast of Gévaudan, 1764-5” in Imagining the Apocalypse: Art and the End Times, edited by Edwin Coomasaru and Theresa Diechert (Courtauld Books Online, 2022): https://courtauld.ac.uk/research/research-resources/publications/courtauld-books-online/apocalypse/monstrous-ecology-regional-iconographies-and-bourbon-authority-in-depictions-of-the-beast-of-gevaudan-1764-5/
Upcoming publication: “From Assimilation to Preservation – Alpine Culture and the Visual Traces of Savoyard Migrants in Eighteenth Century Paris” in Immediations, no. 19 (2022)
Co-organiser for The Courtauld Institute of Art’s third-year PhD symposium, 19.05.2022
Transporting Culture – Art, Objects, and ‘Early Modern Logistics’ organised in conjunction with HECAA (Historians of Eighteenth-Century Art and Architecture), 20.10.2022
- Early modern France
- ‘Regional’ France
- Perceptions and definitions od peripheries, both cultural and geographical, and the intersection of these two
- Notions of ‘vernacular’ or ‘localised’ culture(s)
- ‘The geographical turn’
- Natural borders and boundaries (mountains, rivers, coastlines et alia), and the people that live in and around them
- The Annales school
- Historical ideas of otherness and othering
- Europe in its global context(s)
- BA (Hons), The Courtauld Institute of Art, (2014-2017)
- MA, The Courtauld Institute of Art, Art, Object, Sense: Crossings in Anthropology and Art History – the case of Eighteenth-century France, supervised by Professor Katie Scott, (2017-2018)
- PhD, From now onwards, we are all French!’ – Regional Otherness and Visual Culture in France, 1659-1769, Supervised by Professor Katie Scott, 2019-present.