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"Heretofore Considered Legendary": The Harpy of 1784 and Meanings of Monstrosity in Eighteenth-Century France

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Author: Halbert, Philippe Langellier Bellevue
Advisor: Pacini, Giulia
Committee Members: Bossenga, Gail; Médevielle, Nicolas
Issued Date: 7/13/2011
Subjects: Monsters
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10288/13867
Description: Since Antiquity, monsters and monstrosities have served as vehicles for cultural, philosophical, and scientific debates. In effect, they represent more than a fleeting fascination or simple repugnance for the horrible or misshapen "other,"� but rather deeper-rooted cultural conflicts and tensions This is especially true in early-modern France, where medieval and Renaissance traditions came face to face with new scientific discoveries and enlightened theories supported by reason and a renewed interest in nature. Inspiring and subsequently shaped by visual culture such as engravings and etchings, artists, craftsmen, fashion merchants, playwrights, naturalists, and social critics alike appropriated and exploited the metaphorical power of the monster. This thesis takes as its focus the "harpies" of 1784, fantastic hybrid creatures that made their first appearance in popular broadsides and pamphlets. The harpy speaks to numerous concerns and issues as a symbolic monster in the eighteenth-century French imaginary. Inspiring fears and sensations of disorder and sterility to fascination and humor, the harpy manifested itself across multiple spheres of French society in the decade that would explode in revolution.
Degree: Bachelors of Arts in Modern Languages


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