1st Edition

Photojournalism and the Origins of the French Writer House Museum (1881-1914) Privacy, Publicity, and Personality

By Elizabeth Emery Copyright 2012
    274 Pages
    by Routledge

    274 Pages
    by Routledge

    Why did writers' private homes become so linked to their work that contemporaries began preserving them as museums? Photojournalism and the Origins of the French Writer House Museum addresses this and other questions by providing an overview of the social forces that brought writers' homes to the forefront of the French imagination at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth. This study analyzes representations of the apartments and houses of Corneille, Hugo, Balzac, Dumas, Sand, Zola, Loti, Montesquiou, Mallarmé, and Proust, among others, arguing that the writer's home became a contested space and an important part of the French patrimony at this time. This is the first book to emphasize the house museum as an essentially modern construct, and to trace the history of ideas leading to its institutionalization in twentieth-century France. The interdisciplinary study also brings new attention to the importance of photojournalism for fin-de-siècle France - and brings to light fascinating and forgotten examples of 'at home' photography by Dornac and Henri Mairet. Elizabeth Emery provides a fresh and compelling perspective on conjunctions between visual, literary, and material cultures.

    Contents: Introduction; La Maison d'un artiste: the writer's Home as self-portrait; Writers at home and in the popular press: truth and fiction; From home to habitat: Bricabracomania and la Nouvelle Psychologie; Home life as fiction; Photo-interviews as narrative acts; Literary pilgrimage and the cult of the writer house museum; Conclusion; Works cited; Index.


    Elizabeth Emery is Professor of French in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures at Montclair State University, USA.

    'Professor Emery’s detailed study provides a fresh perspective on conjunctions between visual, literary, and material cultures.' Museums & Heritage Magazine

    'Emery wears her remarkable erudition lightly...’ Times Literary Supplement

    'Photojournalism and the Origins of the French Writer House Museum is a treasure trove of previously unexamined resources and a huge array of unique photographs. The book will no doubt appeal to scholars in a number of fields, such as French studies, nineteenth-century literature and visual culture, cultural history, and museum studies.' H-France

    'Emery’s work is groundbreaking for its scholarly focus on the historical context and formation of these museums. It makes for an absorbing read and should inspire us not only to revisit writer museums as sites that celebrated writers’ lives, but also, more importantly, as sites for critical study.' Nineteenth Century French Studies

    'Whilst it clearly breaks new ground in highlighting the symbolic weight of the ’writer’s home’ in French fin-de-siècle and belle époque imagination, this book also offers a useful and refreshing synthesis of recent scholarship about the development of the mass-media, the social construction of celebrity and memory studies, human zoos, among others ... its inter-disciplinarity clearly enriches its argument through the variety of sources and theories it draws upon. It will be of particular interest to scholars of late nineteenth-century French cultural history and specialists of media studies, visual representations, popular culture and memory and heritage studies.' French History

    'In this wide-ranging and exciting study, Elizabeth Emery explore the complex relationship among French writers, their audiences, and the print media in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.' French Studies