Kathrin Yacavone (French Studies, Nottingham)

"Portrait of the Writer: Photography and Authorship in Nineteenth-Century France"

Ort: Bibliothek des Internationalen Kollegs Morphomata, Weyertal 59 (Rückgebäude, 3. Etage), 50937 Köln

Zeit: 18.00 Uhr

Kontakt: Karena Weduwen

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In mid-nineteenth-century Paris, while Sainte-Beuve was still engaged in writing his innovative ‘portraits’, as he called his famous biographical essays on literary authors, throughout France, the cultural and artistic status of the photographic portrait was rising thanks, in part, to the pioneering work of the most famous photographer of the time, Nadar. With the advent of photography in the 1840s and 1850s, many literary figures, including Balzac and Victor Hugo, began to show an interest in the new medium and its potential as a vehicle for promoting their authorial personae. In this paper I shall examine the cultural affinity between Sainte-Beuve’s discursive and Nadar’s visual portraits of writers, the photographer’s involvement in illustrating biographical writing, and Balzac’s and Hugo’s use of photography in order to show how a) written and visual portraits worked together to reinforce Romantic notions of individual genius and a growing ideology of cultural celebrity; b) biographical discourse and photography in dialogue with each other created (implicit and explicit) notions of authorship; and c) how early photographic technology enabled and inhibited the creation and dissemination of an author figure.

Respondent: Matthias Bickenbach (Köln)

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Kathrin Yacavone (Nottingham): Portrait of the Writer: Photography and Authorship in Nineteenth-Century France