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Mark S. Micale

Abstract

The Better Angels of Our Nature is severely compromised by an overly narrow conception of human violence, a cramped statistical source base, and ideologically predetermined interpretations. Despite its aspirations to comprehensive coverage, the work singularly fails to incorporate violence of a colonial, or indigenous, or environmental, or biological, or technological nature. Ultimately, Pinker’s lengthy, attention-grabbing tome is most noteworthy for what it leaves out.

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Whitewashing History

Pinker’s (Mis)Representation of the Enlightenment and Violence

Philip Dwyer

Abstract

In Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature, there is a before and an after. Before the Enlightenment, the world was superstitious, cruel, and violent; after the Enlightenment, the world was rational and more peaceful. Pinker thus reduces violence to a fairly simplistic concept: all violence can be equated with irrationality, unreason, and ignorance. History is never as straightforward as Pinker would have his readers believe, and violence is a much more complex notion that is often driven not by superstition or unreason, but perfectly “rational” motives. This article argues that there is little causal connection between Enlightenment values and the decline in violence and that changes came about as a result of a complex series of reasons, some of them less than edifying. It raises the interesting question of whether ideas drive history, or whether they are simply the “ideological” bedrock on which change is grounded.

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African Dawn

Keïta Fodéba and the Imagining of National Culture in Guinea

Andrew W. M. Smith

Abstract

This article addresses the cultural activity of Keïta Fodéba, a popular musician, poet, dramatist, and ultimately prominent member of the independent Guinean government. His experiences during the 1950s reflect emergent trends during this period of profound negotiation, in which the terms of the “postcolonial” world were established. Fodéba was a formative figure in the emergence of Guinean national culture but also played an important role in providing Guinea’s independence movement with a renewed impetus beyond Marxist ideology and demands for political equality. Using archival material that reveals French metropolitan fears about his activities, one gains insight into the networks of anticolonial activism with which he engaged. Following Fodéba, from his triumph on Broadway to his death at Camp Boiro, gives new perspectives on his challenging work and offers greater insight into the transfers and negotiations between metropole, colony, and beyond that characterized the decolonization process.

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Art to Table

The Power of Aesthetics in Women’s Cookbooks of the Belle Époque

Samantha Presnal

Abstract

Throughout much of the nineteenth century, men enjoyed hegemony in the French culinary arts, an entitlement enshrined in the books they wrote about cooking and gastronomy. The Belle Époque brought the first challenge to this absolute authority with the publication and popularization of cookbooks written for women, by women. Through the close reading of a selected corpus from the period, this article considers the implications of this shift in authorship. Women cookbook writers infused aesthetic discourse and principles into both the content and style of their texts. While male chefs had also drawn parallels between the culinary arts and the fine arts in order to augment their professional status, female authors evoked this relationship in as well as on di?erent terms. I argue that women cookbook writers engaged with aesthetic theory in a way that legitimized the labor of the private sphere and contested normative ideas about the inferiority of the feminine.

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Elizabeth C. Macknight

Abstract

In France the Falloux Law of 1850 set out the distinction between state-run public schools and écoles libres maintained by individuals or associations. This article argues that Catholic nobles’ historic property-based and charitable ties with rural communities underpinned their foundation of écoles libres. Drawing upon the private archives of noble families, the article shows how networking between aristocratic laity and religious orders facilitated the running of these schools. Nobles’ determination to guard a reputation for charitable patronage, especially in the locality of their landed estate, meant they were impelled to invest financially in écoles libres when doing so made no practical sense. From 1879 successive governments of the Third Republic introduced secularizing legislation that clashed with the aims of Catholic school founders. Even when taken to court for breaking republican laws, nobles, nuns, and monks remained passionately committed to upholding the culture of Christian faith within education.

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Michael B. Loughlin

Abstract

In 1901 Gustave Hervé’s image of the tricolore planted in a dung pile made him notorious. His career became etched into French consciousness when he subsequently shifted from antimilitarism to chauvinism and, between 1914 and 1918, promoted “war to the bitter end” to create a democratic, federated Europe. Because depopulation, alcoholism, and materialism were perceived as threats before 1914, his national socialism shared values with his idealistic prewar socialism. Though Hervé remained a religious skeptic until 1935, the image of an expiatory war was telling. He assailed anyone refusing to support deliverance from Prussian militarism. Hervé’s wartime rhetoric soon included references to a new Bonaparte, a resurrected Committee of Public Safety, or a military dictatorship to save la patrie en danger, presaging his later authoritarian or dictatorial programs. Though he stressed legality and deplored both violence and anti-Semitism, much in Hervé’s interwar positions could be described as republican fascism

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The Ill-Equipped Modernist

Historicizing Édouard Dujardin’s Les Lauriers Sont Coupés

Kelly J. Maynard

Abstract

This article undertakes a historical analysis of Édouard Dujardin’s 1887 novel Les Lauriers sont coupés, best known for its infl uence on James Joyce’s Ulysses. Les Lauriers has been interpreted by literary scholars as a piece of experimental prose symptomatic of several intersecting aesthetic trends of the French fi n de siècle, most notably symbolism, Wagnerism, and modernism. However, I approach the novel through a microhistorical lens, using Dujardin’s letters, contemporary press materials, and maps of post-Haussmann Paristo focus on the author’s biography as well as the political, cultural, and social contexts of the mid-1880s. From this perspective Les Lauriers serves as an insightful barometer of the experiential complexities of a city and a society in the throes of transitioning to modernity. Working at the intersection of literary analysis and cultural history, this article provides compelling evidence of the mutually revelatory ties that bind a work of art and its context.

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Frans Ciappara

Abstract

This article discusses the corpi santi, or whole skeletons of saints, which were brought to Malta from the catacombs of Rome in the eighteenth century. Here they had a diff erent meaning than they had in northern Europe. Malta was not aff ected by the Thirty Years’ War and therefore did not have to replace relics destroyed by the Protestants. The Maltese church also had no need to emphasize its connection with Rome. These saints were honored in Malta because they were heroes, having died for Christ as martyrs. Parishioners also perceived corpi santi as patrons, explaining why they were fully integrated within the parish. They rendered the churches in which they were exhibited centers of local devotion, thereby according prestige to the parish and intensifying rivalry between parishes. The saints also gave identity to the parish, so that parents even named children after them.

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Constructing Difference and Imperial Strategy

Contrasting Representations of Irish and Zionist Nationalism in British Political Discourse (1917–1922)

Maggy Hary

Abstract

The Irish struggle for independence (1917–1922) coincided with the beginnings of the mandate in Palestine, by which the British government sought to encourage the establishment of a Jewish National Home. Analogies between these two territories regularly surfaced in the papers of British officials and policy makers. Universally perceived as a paradigm of nationalism and insurrection, the Irish precedent colored the British understanding of Palestine. Essentialist representations of national groups such as the Irish or the Jews were also common as the British government lent support to various nationalist movements in order to further strategic objectives during the Great War. However, British attitudes toward Irish nationalism and Zionism varied widely. A careful examination of Arthur James Balfour’s representations of the Irish and Jewish nations reveals that nationalist ideology, far from relying on a coherent and systematic understanding of national groups, shifted depending on Britain’s geopolitical interests.

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Cècile Mathieu

Translator : Matthew Roy

Abstract

This article explores French imaginaries of different human groups between the world wars through a study of the Larousse universel of 1922. Dictionaries are generally assumed to be reliable tools for understanding language, reflecting a single, universally accepted, and neutral norm. In fact, as this article demonstrates, the Larousse universel of 1922 conveys an imaginary of otherness very specific to the time and place of its publication. Analyzing ethnonyms (names of peoples or ethnic groups) and demonyms or gentilics (names for residents or natives of a particular place) as well as the associated illustrations, I provide a typology of the dictionary’s treatment of the otherness of different peoples. Exoticism, colonization, war, and zoology emerge as the four themes around which human groups are concentrated. In particular, the predominance of the semantic feature warlike reveals the worry suggested by 20the “foreign” in the aftermath of World War I.