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Title:Les Histoires françaises d’avarice jusqu’aux temps modernes
Author(s):Brown, Alice Louise
Director of Research:Rota, Emanuel
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Rota, Emanuel
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Blake, Nancy; Mathy, Jean-Philippe; Stoppino, Eleonora
Department / Program:French and Italian
Discipline:French
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:Ph.D.
Genre:Dissertation
Subject(s):french literature
avarice
Abstract:This study is an intellectual and cultural history of greed with emphasis on the impact religious and political change had on the concept of avarice from the mid 15th to the beginning of the 18th century. I trace how the evolution of the thinking of crucial French writers contributed to a new categorization of the notion of avarice, translated as either greed or cupidity in the early modern era. Contextualizing greed as discussed by the canon of early modern writers enables us to understand how the concept of avarice played a crucial role in the economic and political debates in France and throughout Europe, and the impact it ultimately had on the larger Mediterranean and Atlantic world. Greed transitions from a sin of overconsumption into one of over-accumulation. This shifting paradigm is crucial to shape our understanding of the longevity of the vice in Western thought. While the concept of greed appeared to become more stable over time, its recurrence did not mean avarice maintained the same status in literature or in French society at large. My dissertation explores the notion of greed not only in terms of its moral and religious implications, but historical and anthropological ones as well. From Christine de Pizan to Michel de Montaigne and Molière, source authors provide insight into key moments in the transformation of greed when they argue religious and political justifications were permuted to condone avaricious behavior in the name of self-interest or collective societal good. A dialectical relationship emerges in which these canonical authors participate. Their literature is neither an echo of history nor a mechanical reflection of the economic and social realities to which it refers. The trajectory of this evolution was by no means linear. I examine the debate on avarice between Protestants and Catholics through the works of poets including Clément Marot and Pierre de Ronsard, though many of their conjectures remained unresolved. In my dissertation, I demonstrate how this transition from over-consumption to over-accumulation is inherently linked to the revaluation of ethics and normative changes in societal attitudes towards expressions of greed, in particular concerning the expansionist policies articulated in early modern Europe.
Issue Date:2019-04-18
Type:Text
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/105031
Rights Information:Copyright 2019 Alice Brown
Date Available in IDEALS:2019-08-23
Date Deposited:2019-05


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