In describing the post-Revolutionary period and the nineteenth century, literary historians have tended to highlight the emergence of romantic subjectivity, the rise of the great writer, or, as the sociologist Pierre Bourdieu argued, the autonomisation of literature. Historians of print meanwhile focus on the book market, especially the industrialisation of publishing or the new aesthetics of the romantic book. Yet both fail to fully grasp the real changes taking place. What will radically transform all of French culture in the nineteenth century is the sudden growth of a modern media culture around 1830. For almost half a century, the newspaper will occupy a near dominant place, from which what we today call « modernity » will be born, with its social and aesthetic characteristics. Professor Vaillant’s talk will be in French.
Alain Vaillant is a Professor of French Literature at the University of Paris – Nanterre, specializing in the literary and cultural history of nineteenth-century France. His many books and articles include Le Rire (1991), 1836. L’an I de l’ère médiatique (2001), Baudelaire, poète comique (2007), and Le veau de Flaubert (2013).
Sponsored by the Department of French and Italian Studies and the Textual and Digital Studies Program.