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Title: The world upside-down in sixteenth-century French literature and visual culture
Author: Robert-Nicoud, Vincent Corentin
ISNI:       0000 0004 6062 4237
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
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To call something 'inverted' or 'topsy-turvy' in the sixteenth century is, above all, to label it as abnormal, unnatural and going against the natural order of things. The topos of the world upside-down brings to mind a world returned to its initial state of primeval chaos, in which everything is inside-out, topsy-turvy and out of bounds: fish live in trees, children rule over their parents, wives command their husband and rivers flow back to their source. This thesis undertakes a detailed account of the development of the topos of the world upside-down in sixteenth-century French literature and visual culture. By examining different uses of this topos - comic, moralising and polemical - it relates the transformations of the topos to religious, social and political conflicts of the period. To explain the shift of this topos from comic and moralising device to satirical and polemical tool, this thesis argues that troubled times produce troubled texts. In order to demonstrate this hypothesis, two kinds of evidence will be examined: Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 present diachronic evidence of the 'polemicisation' of the topos of the world upside-down in literary genres of the period (adages, paradoxes and emblems) and within François Rabelais's body of work; Chapter 3 and 4 provide synchronic evidence of the polemical use of the topos of the world upside-down during the French religious wars in Huguenot and Catholic polemic and in depictions of socio-political turmoil. Charting the variety of uses of the topos of the world upside-down throughout the sixteenth century, this thesis connects the world upside-down and its historical context; and contributes to the scholarship on religious polemic.
Supervisor: Cooper, Richard Sponsor: Berrow Scholarship
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Literature and society--France--History--16th century ; Symbolic inversion ; Satire ; French ; French literature--16th century--History and criticism ; Art--France--History ; Renaissance--France ; France--History--16th century ; France--Intellectual life--16th century