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Title: Actualité coloniale: French Colonial Literature and the Press, 1877-1898
Authors: DeNino, Maureen
Advisors: Blix, Göran
Contributors: French and Italian Department
Keywords: 19th century
French history
French literature
Subjects: French literature
Issue Date: 2022
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation examines writing on colonialism in late nineteenth-century French literature and the press as part of a distinct littérature d’actualité coloniale that emerged at the nexus of French colonial empire, global information networks, and the mass press. Four chapters situate this literature in the context of the actualité that informed and inspired it, tracing how writers commented on and transformed the colonial current events, debates, scandals and affaires that filled newspaper pages in the 1880s and 1890s. At the height of this “civilisation du journal,” journalism and literature were inextricably linked. Newspapers not only mediated information about colonial expeditions and politics for a broad metropolitan readership, they were also a formative site of literary production, as chroniques, contes, and romans-feuilletons turned colonial current events into a privileged subject for critiquing the media and its power to deceive. Chapter one reconstructs the international furor occasioned by Pierre Loti’s front-page account of a massacre at the Battle of Thuan An in 1883, which sparked a debate that helped to define the boundaries of colonial writing in the press. Chapter two tells the story of the Port-Breton colony, a fraudulent colonial venture propped up—and ultimately brought down—by a sophisticated media operation, and shows how its victims served as a cautionary tale in an age of expanding mass media. Chapter three examines how this story made its way into fiction, analyzing Alphonse Daudet’s 1890 novel Port-Tarascon against and alongside its sources in the press. Chapter four looks at the journalistic writing of prominent chroniqueur Octave Mirbeau, and explores the connection between criticism of colonial current events and criticism of journalism and media practices more broadly. A conclusion looks ahead to the end of littérature d’actualité coloniale, situating it in the context of new developments in global reporting and new literary debates codifying the genre of littérature coloniale.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:French and Italian

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