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Local Colour

A Travelling Concept


Vladimir Kapor

Local colour is an undertheorized notion. Although the expression itself is nowadays used in everyday speech in both French and English, its ‘domestication’ only further highlights the need for a clarifying study of this concept, which has come to be crucial in aesthetic debates. From the seventeenth-century rift between ‘Poussinistes’ and ‘Rubénistes’, to the genesis of Romanticist aesthetic theories in early nineteenth-century France, to the North American regionalist prose of the Local colour movement; from Roger de Piles, to Benjamin Constant, Victor Hugo, Prosper Mérimée, and Hamlin Garland, this book sets out to map for the first time couleur locale’s three-hundred-year journey across centuries, languages and genres. In addition to proposing a genealogy of the concept and the paths of its semantic evolution, it also initiates a reflection on the factors that could have prompted the mobility of the term across cultures, art forms and their metalanguages.
Contents: A Pictorial Term Gone Astray? – The Rise and Fall of Couleur Locale – The Transatlantic Journey.