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Lauréat 2021

Prix du Master GIS Sociabilités 2021

Présidente du jury :

Michèle Cohen (Prof. émérite en Histoire) UCL (Institute of Education), Royaume-Uni

Membres du jury du Prix Master 2021:

- Emmanuelle Peraldo (Prof. Littérature britannique) Université Côte d’Azur
- Sebastian Domsch (Prof. Anglophone Literatures) Universität Greifswald
- Véronique Léonard-Roques (Prof. Littérature générale et comparée) UBO Brest
- Tymon Adamczewski (Assist. Professor in English and American Literatures) Kazimierz Wielki University
- Guillaume Faroult (Conservateur en chef / peintures françaises du XVIIIe siècle et peintures britanniques et américaines) Musée du Louvre
- Mark Philp (Professor of History and Politics) University of Warwick, UK

La lauréate du prix du Master GIS Sociabilités 2021 est :

SARA LEUNER
UNIVERSITE PARIS CITE
LARCA

pour son mémoire intitulé:

“‘The most agreeable of all bad characters’: aesthetic and ideological genealogy of the rake archetype in eighteenth century British literature”
 

Mémoire de Master M2 soutenu le 17 juin 2021 sous la direction de Frédéric Ogée


Abstract :
The very term of ‘rake’ conjures up images of hedonism, intrigues, and a constant search for sensual gratification where erotic pursuits take centre stage. As such, the rake might appear as merely another name on the long list of historical and literary seducer-archetypes. But the figure sets itself apart through its highly specific temporal and geographical anchoring.
Indeed, rakish narratives appear to be particularly popular -akin even to a form of ubiquity-in artistic productions spanning from the English Restoration in the mid-17th century to the early decades of the 19th century. This time frame, which numerous historians refer to as the ‘long eighteenth century’, highlights the rake’s British background but also sheds light on the historical disquiet that led to its creation.
Although the rake borrows from multiple earlier models of deceit and licentiousness, this coagulation of tutelar figures could not have happened at any other point in history. I argue that the rake’s emergence during the Restoration stems from concerns specific to eighteenth-century English aristocrats. At a time of political and social instability, in which the reality of a restored-but-diminished monarchy forced the aristocracy to face its own loss of prestige, the rake stands as a reactionary effort to recapture that lost glory. The archetype thus becomes a performative figure of privileged and predatory masculinity, expressed through excesses of various natures and mirroring real-life attitudes.
Going further, my contention is that the rake can be understood as both an illustration and a trigger of the identity crisis that threatened eighteenth-century English masculinity. There is indeed not one universal eighteenth-century rake but rather a lineage of rakish incarnations, each embracing the mutating social, political and aesthetic sensibilities of the period. Thus, while the Restoration playwrights had a lasting impact in the depiction of the rake as a flamboyant but sympathetic figure, subsequent rakish narratives were increasingly seized by authors writing against the rake. They instead championed the 18th-century model of male sociability that challenged aristocratic privileges and advocated for middle-class values of sobriety and politeness, often favouring the nascent format of the novel to do so.
The study of the rake’s genealogy therefore enables an inquiry into the conflicting conceptions of gendered behaviour and social prerogatives throughout the eighteenth century, seen through the lens of literary history.