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Title: Changing modes of intervention of the French intellectual from the Dreyfus affair to today : Sartre, Lévy, Hessel
Author: Orain, Marine
ISNI:       0000 0004 7426 0470
Awarding Body: Birkbeck, University of London
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 2018
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Jean-Paul Sartre embodied the initial model of the total intellectuel engagé by mastering different genres and modes of intervention. At the end of his career, he engaged in the process of shifting from literature to audio-visual methods. He believed in the power of television, radio and cinema. Yet, in the 1980s, the enlargement of the public space brought by new media, and the death of some great names of the intellectual community, caused the marginalization of French intellectuels engagés. This thesis argues that the evolution of form of the intellectuals’ work testifies to the democratization of engagement: digital literacy works in favour of the intellectual’s accessibility and independence, and therefore in favour of the much coveted “universalism”. Some French intellectuals adapted to new media to convey their messages, to make themselves marketable, and for their own survival. The example of Bernard-Henri Lévy, commonly and often pejoratively described as “the media intellectual”, will be used to illustrate the politicization, globalization and diversification of the French intellectual. Moreover, this thesis demonstrates that the explosion of new media did not signal the death of the intellectual’s textual intervention. Quite the opposite: the Internet allowed a return to the written word. The case study of Stéphane Hessel and his bestselling pamphlet Indignez-vous! proves that literature can still generate change in today’s hyper-connected society. Up-to-date data was collected for this thesis through primary and secondary sources, as well as interviews. I interviewed Bernard-Henri Lévy in March 2014 on his public status, his use of the media and interventions in Libya and Ukraine. I interviewed Stéphane Hessel’s publishers, Sylvie Crossman and Jean-Pierre Barou, from Indigène Editions, in September 2014. Jean-Pierre Barou worked with Sartre, Beauvoir and Foucault through La Cause du Peuple (he was the editor of this newspaper, and later took part in the creation of Libération). I interviewed Edgar Morin at the CNRS in July 2015 on the relationship between intellectuals, media and power, the use of Twitter at the age of 94, the connotations behind the notion of engagement and the decline of petitions.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available