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Title: The formation of the family in nineteenth-century French art and literature (1857-1888)
Author: Hewitt, Catherine Anne
ISNI:       0000 0004 2721 8827
Awarding Body: Royal Holloway, University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 2012
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The family as an institution was considered deeply important in the second half of the nineteenth century, but it was also a topic which provoked debate and whose definition was unstable. This thesis explores the ways in which different facets of family discourse found expression in literary and artistic representations of the formation of the family between 1857 and 1888. This thesis focuses on the early stages of family formation as being particularly informative as regards some of the popular ideas relating to the family in circulation at this time. The study concentrates on the family unit rather than the forces which surrounded it. Urban families are compared with those of peasants, and subversive representations are set alongside more idealised, often lesser-known ones, gaining us a deeper understanding ofthe socio-cultural landscape and the way the family was perceived at this time. By drawing material from art and literature, this thesis also offers a new perspective on interdisciplinary studies, since it explores deeper methodological questions through family-related themes. In accordance with the emphasis placed on perceptions of the family, individual works' critical reception will be the primary means of comparing art and literature. This draws on elements of reception aesthetics. The thesis is structured into three parts, each consisting of two chapters. Part 1 concentrates on interpretations of marriage, the first rite of passage involved in family formation. Part 2 investigates birth and baptism. Part 3 examines the product of these first two stages, by first analysing representations of the family group and then focusing on the network of relationships which constructed it. Ultimately, my thesis shows how art and literature not only reflected, but also participated in the widespread reassessment of the family and therefore allow us a deeper insight into the associated social questions and their historical context.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Al
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available