Paris and London 1851-1900. Spaces of Transformation

A colloquium organized by Alexandre Burin, Claire Bitoun and Cécile Roche at the Maison Française, Oxford, 23-24 October 2015
Some notes and after-thoughts

 

Fog over the Thames: “un tropisme londonien”

Le climat: the main reason for British expatriation to France in the nineteenth century

Pre-Raphaelites and Paul Bourget’s explorations of the Lake District: vapour and contours

Baudelaire: fear and fascination with mechanisation, with démembrement, with Music hall…

Outlines, clouds, skirts – shutters

How interesting it was to see the new mobility of the (dancing) body refract between the two urban spaces, and then to think these refractions in relation to the idea of a new urban “morality” – “une morale urbaine” – spanning the Channel. Deterritorialisation: it was evoked twice (explicitly) – of the body as imagined in the chahut and the cancan, and of the cité as a space of liberal exchange against the forces of reaction. Do these fantasies feed one another, ignore one another…?

And how do our imaginations of sound amplify these fantasies? How do we make accents and foreignness of speech cut into our thinking about the transformations underway? Did Finette’s Créole origins sound in her voice? Did Wilde have an accent? Do these questions and the wonderful names of Grille d’Egout and Rigolboche help us know what to do with Rimbaud’s Illuminations?

Cites are not only spaces of movement; they are endless varied noise and accent, a constant bath of human expressiveness that differentiates even in the fog. Language is always embodied and bodies often produce strange sounds. How do the vernaculars of the city intersect with our notions of deterritorialised bodies, of démembrement?

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