TitleSpectacles of modernity
NameKostova, Julia (author), Schilling, Derek (chair), Swenson, James (internal member), Larrier, Renee (internal member), Naqvi, Fatima (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
Exposition internationale (1937 : Paris, France),
Exposition internationale des arts décoratifs et industriels modernes (1925 : Paris, France),
Exposition coloniale internationale de Paris (1931)
DescriptionMy dissertation focuses on the three major international fairs held in Paris in the interwar period – the Art Deco Exposition of 1925, the Colonial Fair of 1931 and the International Exposition of 1937. Like all world’s fairs, these expositions responded to and imagined solutions to pressing economic, political, and cultural problems by offering elaborate ideological messages, shrouded in spectacle and entertainment, in an attempt to reassure fairgoers of the tenability of French values and the bright future. Yet, I argue that despite efforts to provide coherent and reassuring answers to visitors, the narratives the fairs produced were often conflicting and inconsistent. In fact, the narratives of modernity, progress and nationhood, created by the displays, architectural representations and debates surrounding the planning stages, often problematized the dominant, officially-sanctioned visions that the fairs relentlessly promoted. I explore precisely the inconsistencies between these conflicting visions because they shed light on the process by which the fairs configured national identity and formulated images of modernity. I contend that these internal conflicts are an indication of France’s deeply problematic relationship to the modernity traditionally extolled at the fairs, and that it emerged as a serious challenge to deeply engrained national self-perception. My dissertation is divided in two parts. In Part One, I trace the conceptual origins and history of the expositions tradition in France, dating back to the late 18th century, to which the interwar fairs are heirs. My aim there is to outline important questions and debates that continue to be defining at the interwar fairs. Part Two of my dissertation contains three chapters, each dedicated to the study of the fairs of 1925, 1931, and 1937. By situating each event within the broader historical, cultural and aesthetic context of their planning and duration, and by analyzing closely the representations of these fairs, I demonstrate how the fairs actively shaped notions of modernity and national identity, and read them as part of a broader self-presentational discourse. By pointing out the internal conflicts within these representations, I aim to show that France’s ambiguous relation to modernity in fact stems from and conceals a deep anxiety over loss of a cultural particularity, compromised at the same time by France’s desire and imperative to modernize.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references
Noteby Julia Kostova
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.