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Grant number like: FA-58550-15

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Francois Proulx
Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois (Champaign, IL 61801-3620)

Fellowships for University Teachers
Research Programs

[Grant products][Media coverage][Prizes]

$37,800 (approved)
$37,800 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2015 – 5/31/2016

Reading and French Masculinity at the Fin de Siecle

Victims of the Book offers the first investigation of young men's excessive reading habits as a subject of grave social concern in fin-de-siecle France. It examines a corpus of over 70 novels, most of which have not been studied -- as well as essays, articles, and medical treatises -- that feature these troublesome young male readers. I propose that this literary corpus was a response to national anxieties about the formation of future French citizens. Against this cultural backdrop, I illuminate what was at stake in representations of the young male reader by novelists of the era 1880-1914, from Jules Valles to Marcel Proust. Situating Proust's representation of reading in its historical and cultural context, I show how his pathbreaking ideas about reading profoundly challenged cultural norms about masculinity and literature. The book contributes to 19th century French literary history and cultural studies, and to the broader fields of book history and masculinity studies.