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Title:Mobile limits and the limits of mobility in French representations of urban space
Author(s):Hunt, Brian Bartlett
Director of Research:Flinn, Margaret C
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Mathy, Jean-Philippe
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Keller, Marcus; Bray, Patrick
Department / Program:French and Italian
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Twentieth Century French Literature
French Cinema
Spatial Theory
Urban Fictions
Urban Studies
Critical Theory
Abstract:This dissertation proposes a new approach to conceptualizing the French city through a series of readings on twentieth- and twenty-first century literature, cinema and theory. This project uncovers liminal protagonists in French urban space, analyzes their Certelian practices, and considers what happens when they interact with urban limits in unexpected or unintended ways. Through the thematic lens of the border, my readings of the spatial practices of urban travelers breathe new life into canonical literary and cinematic texts, chronologically spanning from Louis Aragon’s Le Paysan de Paris (1926) to Christian Volckman’s Renaissance (2005). Each chapter engages with cultural theorists—Michel Serres, Bruno Latour, Michel de Certeau, Régis Debray—and intellectual movements—existentialism, surrealism, posthumanism—that all emphasize the importance of borders as specific zones of creative possibilities. Such an approach requires a detailed engagement with French culture and history and offers novel research paths in the field of French studies. At the same time, this study stretches beyond the disciplinary boundaries of French studies, entering into dialogue with spatial theory, urban and borderland studies, and cybernetics. Chapter One focuses on interwar representations of New York in order to establish this project’s central terms: (im)mobility and spatial delinquency, two competing forms of urban mobility in Céline’s Voyage au bout de la nuit and Paul Morand’s New York. Chapter Two initiates a discussion on borderland poetics in Louis Aragon’s Le Paysan de Paris and Jean Vigo’s L’Atalante, both of which center their narratives on borderlands in and around the nation’s capital. Chapter Three tracks the relationship between Parisian suburbanites and urban planners in relation to Michel Serres’ theoretical figure of the parasite in Mathieu Kassovitz’s La Haine and Jean-Luc Godard’s deux ou trois choses que je sais d’elle. Chapter Four follows two post-modern detectives along the various limits of invisible cities in Michel Butor’s L’Emploi du temps and Christian Volckman’s Renaissance, demonstrating how the experience of these detectives reflects the literary and cinematic creative processes.
Issue Date:2015-12-01
Rights Information:Copyright 2015 Brian Hunt
Date Available in IDEALS:2016-03-02
Date Deposited:2015-12

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