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Display and Disguise

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Edited By Manon Mathias, Maria O'Sullivan and Ruth Vorstman

In a culture increasingly obsessed with the visual, self-image and extreme self-exposure, in which reality is constantly obscured and misrepresented through concealment and spin, the roles display and disguise play in literature, thought and visual culture are particularly prescient. This collection, developed from papers presented at a postgraduate conference in Oxford in September 2008, presents a coherent view of key developments in the notions of display and disguise in French culture and provides a thought-provoking contribution to contemporary criticism. The volume includes essays from both senior researchers and graduate students using close readings and theoretical approaches from the psychoanalytic to the postcolonial. These are arranged in four main sections, dealing with notions of performance, disclosure, illusion and concealment respectively. Drawing on new research in a wide range of periods, in fields including art, photography, theatre, travel writing and the novel, the authors consider the notions of display and disguise in relation to works by artists such as Molière, Flaubert, Proust, Dalí, Vinaver and Sophie Calle.
This volume contains ten contributions in English and one in French.

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Manon Mathias, Maria O’Sullivan and Ruth Vorstman - Introduction - 1

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Manon Mathias, Maria O’Sullivan and Ruth Vorstman Introduction This volume was inspired by the French Postgraduate Conference on the theme of Display and Disguise held at the University of Oxford in 2008. Several of the essays in this collection draw on papers presented at the conference, and an additional three articles have been specially commis- sioned for this book. The conference intended to bring together research- ers from a wide range of disciplines and periods within French Studies to develop the notions of display and disguise as they relate to society and culture, literature and art and to study the ways in which an awareness of these key concepts can foster new connections between periods and genres. During the conference, the breadth and significance of these themes became increasingly clear, and it is that breadth of scope, combined with a tight focus on the aesthetic, literary, and cultural significance of display and disguise that we aim to develop in this volume. Although they might initially appear to be binary opposites, the cen- tral themes of this volume do in fact exist on a continuum from transpar- ency and honesty to the hidden and deceitful. If display may appear to be an open and explicit representation of the self, it can also be false, a self- conscious performance which highlights the aspects of identity that the speaker wishes to emphasise. As psychoanalyst Joan Rivière demonstrated in her 1929 essay ‘Womanliness as a Masquerade’, women in traditionally masculine forms of employment...

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