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Title: Hysterie et Nevrose: representations du discours medical dans l'oeuvre de Jules et Edmond de Goncourt (1860-1893)
Author: Giraud, Barbara
Awarding Body: Oxford Brookes University
Current Institution: Oxford Brookes University
Date of Award: 2008
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Abstract:
This thesis challenges the general critique regarding the work of the Goncourt brothers. Under researched until recently, their paradoxical position as aristocrats in the society of the second part of 19th-Century France as well as literary men, authors of multi-layered novels, made them difficult to frame. However, in recent years, their work has been mainly studied through a stylistic approach, the particularity of their 'style artiste' given as a symptom of the morbidity inhabiting them as individuals. Here, we propose to analyse the nine principal novels of the two brothers and subsequently of Edmond de Goncourt on his own (after the death of Jules, the younger brother in 1870) from the theoretical angle developed in Michel Foucault's works: Histoire de la folie al'age c1assique (1961), Archeologie du savoir (1969), Histoire de la sexualite (1976), Surveil/er et punir (1975). I have drawn on the Foucauldian concept that modern power created new forms of sexuality by inventing discourses about it through the medicalisation of women's sexuality during the nineteenth century. Women as subjects of the sexually-based disorder of hysteria were constituted and controlled by hierarchical observation and normalizing judgments of the medical discourse. The Goncourt brothers, at first, through the symptomatic elaboration of hysteria and/or neurosis which constitutes their characters' lives, seem to adhere to the discourse of power that the modern sciences 'of medicine convey in bourgeois society. This study seeks to resolve what lies beneath the medical discourse found in the Goncourt's work. and more specifically, the way the two authors chose to use their own medical knowledge to express their view as to how society tackles the issues of ab-normality and otherness. While they are thought to be largely conservative, a thorough reading of their texts shows a fracture in their representation of the medical discourse: it emerges that the two main figures the Goncourts consider to be suffering the most from society's dominant discourse are those of the artist, but also, more unexpectedly, those of women and their sexuality. Not only do they denounce the pressure society puts on the individual but they contest its repression which condemns them to death.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Oxford Brookes University, 2008 Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.490516  DOI: Not available
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