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Title:In the streets, shops, and mines: The voices of Emile Zola's working-class women
Author(s):Katner, Linda Beane
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Talbot, Emile J.
Department / Program:French
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Literature, Romance
Women's Studies
Abstract:In his Rougon-Macquart, Emile Zola was the first nineteenth-century French author to offer a broad and profound literary portrayal of working-class women. Using a socio-linguistic theoretical approach, this dissertation analyzes Zola's innovations in using literary devices to amplify authentic female working-class voices, and identifies how this discourse differs from male discourse in Le Ventre de Paris, L'Assommoir, Au Bonheur des dames and Germinal.
Chapter I discusses the general orality of Zola's text, achieved by punctuation, intonation, phrasing, and the inspired use of popular language and style indirect libre. Zola's creative use of these literary techniques heightens the reader's appreciation for and knowledge of the discourse habits and speech patterns of working-class women.
Chapter II applies Mikhail Bakhtin's concepts of polyphonic discourse and the polyphonic heroine to the discourse of Lisa Quenu, Denise Baudu and la Maheude. Bakhtin's definition of the polyphonic novel revolves around theories of the hero(ine), dominant idea and word. Polyphonic heroines speak with full-valued voices and embrace dominant philosophies which motivate their actions.
Chapters III and IV analyze the dynamics, logistics and importance of working-class female group discourse. This discourse influences the unfolding of events in many novels, and supersedes male group discourse in effectiveness and importance. Chapter III analyzes organized group discourse which takes the form of a classical Greek Chorus and of rumors. Chapter IV treats unorganized group discourse in a delineated milieu and in a crowd or mob. Being marginalized from the male power and authority hierarchy, women create their own communication systems and find strength and legitimacy in uniting their voices.
Discourse between working-class women is more prevalent than between men or women and men. Furthermore, women are more often portrayed gathering in groups and working than are men. Zola was quite forward-looking in his serious depiction of working-class women in the Rougon-Macquart. He uses various literary devices to let these women speak through him, resisting the temptation to give them a voice in order to claim it as his own. This portrayal supports Zola's stated goal to realistically depict life at all levels of society during the Second Empire.
Issue Date:1993
Rights Information:Copyright 1993 Katner, Linda Beane
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9314889
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9314889

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