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Title: Rewriting history through the performance of tragedy, 1799-1815
Author: Siviter, Clare
ISNI:       0000 0004 6062 0957
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis constitutes the first extensive study of tragedy during the Napoleonic era. The new tragic productions of this period have been sidelined by French theatre history, allegedly because they were tired copies of seventeenth-century classical models, conduits for propaganda, and suffocated by censorship. I challenge this judgement by excavating this period’s theatre and by applying renewed critical approaches, notably André Lefevere’s notion of rewriting which posits that all productions are subject to poetics and ideology. This thesis is comprised of two principal axes. The first focuses on poetics to contend that new productions were not simply copies of classical plays. Although tragedy was based on the imitation of seventeenth-century models, which scholars refer to as classiques, these examples were rewritten during the eighteenth century, an activity which continued under Napoleon. Therefore, there was no stable example to imitate, rather there was a particular contemporary understanding, which I label the ‘classique’ model to underline its specificity. Using contemporary treatises to form a generic framework, I examine how new tragedies performed at the Comédie-Française depart from this inheritance, reconsidering the passage from theatrical Classicism to Romanticism. The second axis engages with Napoleonic cultural politics by rethinking the terms ‘propaganda’ and ‘censorship’. Although tragedy was used for its propagandistic properties, this policy was not always successful. Moreover, the works’ reception reveals that playwrights and the public appropriated tragedy’s rewriting of historical narratives as a means of mediating the Revolution. Finally, I examine censorship, investigating how the State’s bureaucratic and the Comédie-Française’s lateral systems combined to control and tailor tragedies in performance and print for contemporary audiences. Consequently, this thesis sheds light both on the transition from Classicism to Romanticism in the theatre, and the public and the regime’s use of tragedy as a means of reconstructing the French nation after the Revolution.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council ; Erasmus Programme ; France
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PN0080 Criticism