Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Art and Art History, Art History
In this thesis, I examine the imbrication of memory, masculinity, and glory in the cultural politics of revanche. I argue that revanche functioned not only as a desire to restore the annexed provinces of Alsace and Lorraine to France, but also as a cultural fantasy that reproduced and masked the antagonism between a glorious French past and resounding defeat in 1871, variously described as a wound or mutilation. The visual, I maintain, played a constitutive role in the construction of fantasy, as it bandaged as well as effaced the wound of defeat to reassert French glory. In paintings, posters, processions, films, and monuments, representations of dying soldiers and the war dead reveal how the fantasy of revanche changed between its emergence in 1871 and its abatement in post-World War I France. Across these media, invocations of the dead transitioned from calls to remember, to act, and finally, to forget.