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Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages

 

Rebecca Sugden

Photo of Rebecca Sugden

College

St John's

Contact

rs602@cam.ac.uk

Research

“Qui dit art, dit mensonge”: Novels of Conspiracy in July Monarchy France

My doctoral research explores the representation of conspiracy in the literature of the French July Monarchy (1830–48). The project interrogates the interaction of literary poetics and the history of ideologies, seeking to understand the nineteenth–century novel in the context of wider discourses on European political history in the years leading up to the Revolutions of 1848. For, if it emerges as a veritable literary obsession in the wake of Louis–Philippe’s accession to the throne, the importance of writers’ engagement with the conspiracy motif for the wider political and intellectual culture of the long nineteenth century (1789–1914) has been subject to a surprising degree of scholarly neglect. In prompting questions concerning the mutual impregnation of the aesthetic and the ideological, my research is aimed at redressing this imbalance. Through historically informed readings of Honoré de Balzac’s Une ténébreuse affaire (1841), George Sand’s Consuelo–La Comtesse de Rudolstadt (1842–43) and Eugène Sue’s Le Juif errant (1844–45), my thesis engages with a number of targets of the nineteenth-century conspiratorial imaginary: counter-revolutionary royalist plotting, Freemasonry, and Jesuitism. In bringing together these diverse inflexions of nineteenth–century prose fiction, occupying both the centre (Balzac) and the margins (Sand, Sue) of the French literary canon, I make the case for a new generic category, the July Monarchy novel of conspiracy, which, I argue, allows us to productively reconsider the broader relationship between history, politics and literature.

Awards

Winner of the Nineteenth-Century French Studies Association's 2016 Naomi Schor Memorial Award

Publications

Refereed journal articles:

‘Terre(ur): Reading the Landscape of Conspiracy in Balzac’s Une ténébreuse affaire’, forthcoming in Nineteenth-Century French Studies, 46.3-4 (Spring-Summer 2018)

‘Mécanique et mimésis dans La Bête humaine’, forthcoming (2018) on Archives zoliennes (ArchiZ), the digital platform of the Équipe Zola, affiliated with the Institut des textes et manuscrits modernes (ITEM, CNRS) and the Centre de Recherche sur les Poétiques du XIXe siècle (CRP19) at Université de la Sorbonne nouvelle-Paris III

‘Esthétique de la dentelle blanche: Au Bonheur des Dames’, forthcoming on Archives zoliennes, 2018

‘Lignes brouillées dans La Bête humaine’, Les Cahiers naturalistes, 91 (2017): 85-96

 

Book chapters:

‘Balzac et les espaces ténébreux du complot’, forthcoming in Secrets, complots, conspirations (XVIIIe – XXIe siècles), ed. by Christian Chelebourg and Antoine Faivre (Paris: Lettres Modernes Minard, 2018)

 

Book reviews:

Naturalisme. – Vous avez dit naturalismes?, ed. by Céline Grenaud-Tostain and Olivier Lumbroso’ (2015), forthcoming in Nineteenth-Century French Studies, 46.1-2 (Fall-Winter 2017-18)

‘Biancamaria Fontana, Germaine de Staël: A Political Portrait’ (2016), Journal of European Studies, 47.1 (March 2017): 80-82

‘William Olmsted, The Censorship Effect: Baudelaire, Flaubert and the Formation of French Modernism’ (2016), Journal of European Studies, 46.3-4 (October 2016): 385-86

 

Selected conference papers and invited talks

The Paranoid Style: Plotting with Balzac – ‘Style/Le Style’, 43rd annual Nineteenth-Century French Studies colloquium, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, 9th November 2017

Surveiller et punir? Visions du complot chez Balzac – 58th annual conference of the Society for French Studies, University of Durham, 4th July 2017

Work in progress: Novels of Conspiracy in July Monarchy France – French Graduate Research Seminar, King’s College, Cambridge, 29th May 2017

“Une conspiration universelle contre le despotisme et l’intolérance”: Conspiracy and Idealized Initiations in George Sand’s La Comtesse de Rudolstadt – ‘Spleen et Idéal’, 15th annual conference of the Society of Dix-Neuviémistes, University of Kent, Canterbury, 16th April 2017

“We’re all paranoid now”: Conspiracy Theory and Literary Criticism – Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH), Cambridge, 1st March 2017

Paranoia as Paradigm: Reading Conspiracy in Nineteenth-Century French Fiction – Cambridge Seminar Series in Nineteenth-Century French Studies, Emmanuel College, Cambridge, 6th February 2017

Terre(ur): Reading the Landscape of Conspiracy in Balzac’s Une ténébreuse Affaire – ‘La Terre’, 42nd annual Nineteenth-Century French Studies colloquium, Brown University, Providence, RI, 28th October 2016

Secrets and Lies: Fragmentary Knowledge in Balzac’s Une ténébreuse affaire – ‘Fragments/Morceaux’, third biennial post-graduate conference of the Society of Dix-Neuviémistes, Trinity College, Cambridge, 10th September 2016

Balzac et les espaces ténébreux du complot – ‘Secrets, complots, conspirations (XVIIIe – XXIe siècles)’, Centre Culturel International de Cérisy, Cérisy-la-Salle, 24th July 2016

Le défaut de ligne droite? Corps géométriques dans La Bête humaine – ‘The Body/Le Corps’, 14th annual conference of the Society of Dix-Neuviémistes, Reid Hall, Paris, 16th April 2016

Balzac’s Purloined Letters – Cambridge Seminar Series in Nineteenth-Century French Studies, Emmanuel College, Cambridge, 7th March 2016

Mécanique et mimésis dans La Bête humaine – ‘Zola au pluriel II’ symposium, École Normale Supérieure, Paris, 8th September 2015

Esthétique de la dentelle blanche: Au Bonheur des Dames – ‘Zola au pluriel II’ symposium, École Normale Supérieure, Paris, 8th September 2015

Lignes brouillées: Primitivisme et progrès dans La Bête humaine – ‘Zola au pluriel I’ symposium, Emmanuel College, Cambridge, 13th July 2015

 

Teaching

I supervise/have supervised for the following Cambridge colleges: Downing, Girton, Magdalene, Murray Edwards, Newnham, Peterhouse, St John’s and Trinity Hall

  • FrB2 (‘Translation from French’) – language classes for first-year undergraduate students
  • Fr5 (‘Revolutions in Writing, 1700-1900’) – supervision of second-year undergraduate students
  • Year Abroad Projects – dissertation supervision for third-year undergraduate students
  • Fr11 (‘Gender, Desire and Power in Nineteenth-Century French Literature’) – lecturing and supervision for fourth-year undergraduate students

 

 

For further information, please see: http://cambridge.academia.edu/RebeccaSugden