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Currencies: Circulation and spectatorship in the print culture of the French Revolution

Taws, Richard John; (2005) Currencies: Circulation and spectatorship in the print culture of the French Revolution. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis examines the constitutive role of printed media in the formation of political identities during the French Revolution, placing particular emphasis on those areas of print production which have been conventionally and pejoratively marginalised as 'ephemeral', but which I argue are in fact central to the development of distinct and conflictual revolutionary positions. These objects demand a re-examination of the role of spectatorship during this period, and require an engagement with the role of reproduction and authenticity in the formation of individual subjectivities and modern nation states. The first chapter of my thesis addresses the role of assignats or revolutionary paper money, based on the value of confiscated church land, whose material facture became increasingly complicated in response to counterfeiting, part-sponsored by the British Government. The desire for increased transparency (literally, in terms of technological devices such as watermarking) paralleled Republican political morality, but was, I suggest, formulated in response to a range of counter-revolutionary actions. My second chapter examines printed representations of revolutionary festivals, and the problematics of memory, permanence and visuality associated with the representation of an ephemeral event. Chapter three analyses the representative role of the passport in the 1790s. Pre-photographic passports listed the physical characteristics of the bearer, to be compared to the subject at each checkpoint, a textual portrait which opened up a variety of narratives, both of an individual voyage, and, in the case of the politically disenfranchised, a narrative of exclusion centred on a spectatorial encounter. These are read against other spheres of representation, including 'honorific' certificates, portraiture and caricature. My final chapter looks at revolutionary games and other ludic material, and their multiple roles as signifiers of pedagogical truth or, in the case of trompe l'oeil of other prints, deception - all of which were dependent upon the attraction and direction of the gaze.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Currencies: Circulation and spectatorship in the print culture of the French Revolution
Identifier: PQ ETD:602446
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest. Third party copyright material has been removed from the ethesis. Images identifying individuals have been redacted or partially redacted to protect their identity.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of History of Art
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1446521
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