Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Since the fifteenth century, French authors have (re)told the story of Jeanne dâ€™Arc. There is a sense of timelessness that accompanies her reception by the French public. In this transhistorical study, I look at Jeanneâ€™s legend in light of four centuries and reveal how French authors (re)appropriate the Maid for their own political purposes. Along with the timeliness of Jeanneâ€™s appearance, I investigate the gendered nature of her depictions. In short, I examine how Jeanneâ€™s legend constructs, reconstructs, and deconstructs French national identity. In 1429, Christine de Pisan composes DitiÃ© de Jehanne dâ€™Arc, a poem that celebrates her contemporary in fifteenth-century France. Pisanâ€™s poem appears near the end of the Hundred Years War when France is occupied by the English. During this period, the people doubted Charles VIIâ€™s legitimacy and the French monarchy was in danger. As the different factions within France begin to join forces, the new nation of France is born. In seventeenth-century France, the monarchy gains prestige as Louis XIV will soon take the throne. In 1642, FranÃ§ois HÃ©delin dâ€™Aubignac penned the drama La Pucelle dâ€™OrlÃ©ans, in which he depicts the Maid as an eloquent rhetorician who commands the courtroom. In this period of Absolutism, dâ€™Aubignacâ€™s Jeanne parallels the king. During the Age of Reason, Voltaire writes his mock epic La Pucelle dâ€™OrlÃ©ans (1762) in which he questions Jeanneâ€™s purity. This scandalous work offers a political commentary, advising the gullible French public to question the established institutionsâ€”namely, the monarchy and the Church. Voltaireâ€™s epic anticipates one of the greatest national turning points for France: the revolution. In the twentieth century, France endures German occupation in World War II. Jean Anouilhâ€™s drama Lâ€™Alouette (1953) offers a postwar commentary on the state of France as they must rebuild French national identity after the Liberation. In a period when Absurdist theatre emerged, Anouilhâ€™s play reflects the absurdity of war. The author writes a masculine hero and champions the individual: true to himself and responsible for his own actions.
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Coker, Stephanie Louise, "How Legend Constructs French National Identity: Jeanne d'Arc" (2007). LSU Doctoral Dissertations. 2459.
Katharine A. Jensen