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Middlebrow Matters

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Book Series: Contemporary French and Francophone Cultures ISBN: 9781786941565 9781786949523 Year: Language: English
Publisher: Liverpool University Press Grant: Knowledge Unlatched - 102590
Subject: Languages and Literatures
Added to DOAB on : 2019-01-23 06:28:25
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Abstract

Middlebrow is a derogatory word that connotes blandness, mediocrity and a failed aspiration to ‘high’ culture. However, when appropriated as a positive term to denote that wide swathe of literature between the challenging experimentalism of the high and the formulaic drive of the popular, it enables a rethinking of the literary canon from the point of view of what most readers actually read, a criterion curiously absent from dominant definitions of literary value. Since women have long formed a majority of the nation’s reading public, this perspective immediately feminises what has always been a very male canon. Opening with a theorisation of the concept of middlebrow that mounts a defence of some literary qualities disdained by modernism, the book then focuses on a series of case studies of periods (the Belle Époque, inter-war, early twenty-first century), authors (including Colette, Irène Nemirovsky, Françoise Sagan, Anna Gavalda) and the middlebrow nature of literary prizes.

Frères Ennemis

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ISBN: 9781786941329 978786949356 Year: Language: English
Publisher: Liverpool University Press Grant: Knowledge Unlatched - 102591
Subject: Languages and Literatures
Added to DOAB on : 2019-01-23 06:28:25
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Frères Ennemis ocuses on Franco-American tensions as portrayed in works of literature. An Introduction is followed by nine chapters, each focused on a French or American literary text which shows the evolution/devolution of the relations between the two nations at a particular point in time. While the heart of the analysis consists of close textual readings, social, cultural and political contexts are introduced to provide a better understanding of the historical reality influencing the individual novels, a reality to which these novels are also responding. Chapters One through Five, covering a period from the mid-1870s to the end of the Cold War, discuss significant aspects of the often fraught relationship from the theoretical perspective of Roland Barthes’ theory of modern myth, described in his Mythologies. Barthes’ theory helps situate Franco-American tensions in a paradigmatic structure, while at the same time it is supple enough to allow for shifts and reversals within the paradigm. Subsequent chapters explore new French attitudes toward the powerful, potentially dominant influence of American culture on French life. In these sections I argue that recent French fiction displays more openness to the American experience than has existed in the past, and as such contrasts with the more static American approach to French culture.

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2018 (2)