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Disability, Desire, and the Lyric in Seventeenth-Century France

BAILEY, SAMUEL,WILLIAM,JOHN (2022) Disability, Desire, and the Lyric in Seventeenth-Century France. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis asks whether seventeenth-century French lyric poets’ depiction of disability challenges entrenched ideals of beauty, gender, sexuality, and form. It contends that by interrogating the rich and varied imagery of disability found in lyric verse, we deepen our understanding of how French writers and readers of this century interpreted desire and the human body.

The primary corpus comprises unpublished manuscripts and printed sources, grouping lyrics thematically rather than by author. This approach treats the poems as a heterogenous collective, enabling a discussion of lesser-known, unpublished, and anonymous poets. Named poets in this corpus include Paul Scarron, Denis Sanguin de Saint-Pavin, Anne de Rohan-Soubise, Charles Vion d’Alibray, François Maynard, and Théophile de Viau. Some poets write about their personal experiences of disability, while others portray disabled protagonists or draw upon imagery of disability in their verse. This thesis puts their lyrics into dialogue with several theoretical approaches to disability through a Critical Disability Studies framework. The chapters deal with crip theory, metaphor theory, the grotesque and carnivalesque, spatial theory, queer theory, transhumanism, and posthumanism. The poets’ negotiation of bodily regimes holds much in common with their concurrent negotiation of the formal constraints of lyric verse, allowing this thesis to ask why poetry – and the seventeenth-century lyric in particular – is so replete with imagery of disability.

Due to its examination of the intersections between disability, gender, and sexuality, this thesis will be of interest to scholars of gender and sexuality as well as those studying disability and early modern French literature. Seventeenth-century authors working under a different set of bodily regimes were more likely to imagine disability in ways unfamiliar to twenty-first-century readers, so this research also questions current assumptions about what disability is and is not, while nuancing existing theoretical frameworks used to read disability in literature.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Modern Languages and Cultures, School of
Thesis Date:2022
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:04 Nov 2022 09:42

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