Date of Degree

9-2022

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

History

Advisor

David Troyansky

Committee Members

Clifford Rosenberg

Julia Sneeringer

Gonzalo Sanchez

Subject Categories

Cultural History | European History | French and Francophone Literature | Political History

Keywords

history of the press, humor and satire, comic illustration, mass culture, satirical press

Abstract

This dissertation studies the illustrated satirical periodical Le Rire in its historical context between its debut during the Dreyfus Affair and the conclusion of World War I. Adopting a multivalent approach to the historical study of graphic humor, it argues that Le Rire constitutes a significant corpus of evidence for understanding the political, commercial, social, and cultural novelties of its time, and maintained an ambivalent relationship with the young institutions and functionaries of the French Third Republic. As France’s leading satirical periodical, Le Rire served as a powerful medium for broadcasting nascent and extreme ideas to a mass reading public in Paris and beyond. Organized into five chapters, this dissertation charts the growth of Le Rire from its inception during the Dreyfus Affair into a near-monopolistic enterprise of comic publishing, including its growth into a proprietary pavilion at the 1900 Exposition Universelle, a publishing house and sponsor of Parisian entertainments and spectacles, and its experience weathering the experience of World War I. Ultimately, this dissertation concludes that despite its incubation of nascent far-right political movements, being closely affiliated with antisemitic, ethnonationalist, and anti-parliamentary ideologues, Le Rire ultimately reconciled itself to the political culture and institutions of the Third Republic during the crucible of World War I. Its history thus relates a salient view of the close relationship and changing nature of politics and popular culture at the turn of the twentieth century, and the role of humor in mediating both.

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