The Lithographic Conspiracy

How Satire Framed Liberal Political Debate in Nineteenth-Century France

in French Politics, Culture & Society
Amy Wiese Forbes

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This article discusses political satire under the July Monarchy. It analyzes how the question of satire's political meaning was generated and framed in the 1830s as debate over abstract rights under the new, supposedly more liberal government of the July Monarchy. Following the Revolution of 1830, lithographic satire became connected conceptually to political conspiracy and was argued to be harmful to the new regime. State institutions, including the police, the courts, and the National Assembly, attempted to understand and define satire politically. The effort to evaluate satire's potential harm to the state shaped French liberalism into a contest between rights to free speech and protection from harm. This process was part of a broader struggle to construct legitimate authority in France.

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