The 'internal exotic' : a postcolonial re-reading of nineteenth-century Alsatian and Corsican literature in French
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This thesis examines nineteenth-century French literature about the peripheral regions of Alsace and Corsica, observing the discursive process of their incorporation into the imagined French landscape. Firstly, approaching literature from a postcolonial angle, this thesis shows how Alsace and Corsica were represented as exotic by contemporary canonical writers. ‘Internal exoticism’ helped conceptualise these regions as different from the French self, while justifying their rule by France. It also investigates how nineteenth-century Parisian authors envisaged Alsace’s and Corsica’s transition from ‘otherness’ to ‘Frenchness.’ Secondly, this research reveals long-forgotten regional authors, who endeavoured to write about their provinces in French for the first time. It analyses the influence of Parisian literary figures on these authors, showing whether they were imitating or responding to canonical representations. This process reveals regional writers’ tendencies to ‘auto-exoticise’, seeing their provinces through the eyes of the centre. Finally, this analysis shows how French nation-building was interlinked with France’s larger imperial project, suggesting that peripheral provinces were often perceived through the same conceptual framework as overseas colonies. This thesis contributes to the field of French studies by unearthing unknown authors, and by applying a new theoretical framework, drawing on literary, political and socio-cultural approaches, to the study of France.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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