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An analysis of writing as a career in seventeenth-century France based on a comparative study of the career histories of Jean Racine, Philippe Quinault and Edme Boursault

FOULKES, MICHAEL,JAMES (2017) An analysis of writing as a career in seventeenth-century France based on a comparative study of the career histories of Jean Racine, Philippe Quinault and Edme Boursault. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This study analyses the careers of Racine, Quinault and Boursault to evaluate the effectiveness of strategies authors in seventeenth-century France employed to promote their careers. The literary, social, economic and political context in which they worked is explored by building on key biographical works and on studies of l’âge classique.
The professional status of a writer is examined, developing work by Alain Viala. Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of forms of capital provides a framework to analyse the writers’ pursuit of capital during their careers. Building on research by Erving Goffmann and Stephen Greenblatt, the authors’ use of self-fashioning is explored, as is their manipulation of their images as honnêtes hommes and hommes de lettres.
The impact of patronage in enabling authors to ensure financially sustainable careers and the ways they appealed to potential patrons is examined. Research by Sharon Kettering and Peter Shoemaker, among others, is extended by the application of theories of patronage to the practice of the case study authors.
This thesis develops research into literary polemics with a particular focus on the deliberate employment and strategic manipulation of controversy for self-promotion, illustrated by disputes engaged in by the three authors.
The methods writers employed to gain professional legitimacy through the institutions of the monarchy, the Académie française and the literary salons are scrutinised and the impact of changes in the theatre-going public is reviewed.
The research concludes that, at this period, writing could provide a viable career and offer opportunities for social advancement, but the findings demonstrate that successful writers needed to manage their careers strategically. They had to be versatile in their writing to respond to public tastes, sensitive to expectations of behaviour in order to obtain patronage and accumulate capital and willing to adopt a range of techniques of self-promotion to build and secure their reputations.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Boursault, Quinault, Racine, Literary Controversy, Patronage, Career Strategies, Salons, Academie Francaise, Bourdieu, Capital, 17th Century French Theatre
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Modern Languages and Cultures, School of
Thesis Date:2017
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:16 May 2017 10:53

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