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Grant number like: FB-50364-04

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Anna Sigridur Arnar
Moorhead State University (Moorhead, MN 56563-0001)

Fellowships for College Teachers and Independent Scholars
Research Programs

[Grant products]

$40,000 (approved)
$40,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2005 – 5/31/2006

Facets: The Book in the Work of Stephane Mallarme

"Facets" is a book-length study on the French poet Stéphane Mallarmé's diverse engagement with the concept of the book. The book was thoroughly entrenched in Mallarmé's writings and practice; it is not simply an abstract ideal but also an independent entrepreneurial venture, an art object, a theatrical performance, and a "bomb" designed to make way for a new society. Although a handful of studies have examined a single development of Mallarmé's engagement with the book, nobody has linked these individual developments and recognized the interrelated character of this multi-faceted ambition. In addition to providing a compelling model for examining the utopian and practical manifestations of the book in Mallarmeé's work, I situate this singular obsession within a larger historical framework of the debates that informed fin-de-siècle culture-a culture that simultaneously shunned yet thrived on reproductive technologies and modern developments in publishing. My project will be especially valuable because it responds to fundamental gaps in existing scholarship. Unlike for other French writers, there exist no full-scale art historical studies devoted to Mallarmé despite his sustained interaction with the visual arts. As an art historian with expertise in nineteenth-century French print culture, I will contribute a unique reading of Mallarmé's work, particularly with respect to the material dimension of his literary practice. For example, Mallarmé was one of the first French literary figures to tap into the expanding network of fine arts printmaking to publish his own books. Moreover, he played a fundamental role in forging a new category of the modern book known as the "painter's book" at a time when most writers, including Mallarmé, were adamantly opposed to illustration. Finally, I contribute new and compelling scholarship concerning the impact of mass media on the poet's theories of reading and looking.