Illustration, Performativity and the Explicit Body of Marie-Antoinette in Eighteenth-Century French Pornographic Pamphlets

Shapiro, Carolyn ORCID logoORCID: (2017) Illustration, Performativity and the Explicit Body of Marie-Antoinette in Eighteenth-Century French Pornographic Pamphlets. In: Illustrating Identity/ies, 8-10 November, 2017, University of Lorraine, Nancy, France. (Unpublished)

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Abstract / Summary

Abstract: The term “performativity” has been circulating in academic and artistic milieus for several decades, tending to refer in academia to language, and to theatricality by visual artists, the latter of which is a misuse of the term. This paper would comprise two parts. First, it would present the modern history of the term “peformativity” starting with J.L. Austin’s speech-act theory, in order to explain the intervention of the notion of performativity into the metaphysical approach to language. This section of the paper would establish a working definition of performativity, based on deconstructive approaches to language, which would then, in the second part of the presentation, be clarified through discussing performative illustration. All illustration is, by the definition which would be presented, performative, but there are degrees of performative illustration. In the second part of my paper I would present an example of extreme performative illustration: the engravings in the pornographic pamphlets disseminated during the time of the French Revolution pertaining to the proclivities of Queen Marie Antoinette. During her reign, the circulation of pornographic dramas played many social roles, delineating in particular, identities of class and nationality. I am particularly interested in the intersectionality of gender into the pamphlets’ performative components of expressing class and national identity. The pamphlets dramatising and illustrating the sexual adventures of Marie Antoinette show not only the effect of performative speech acts such as gossip and calumny, but also the role of the illustrative image in pushing those effects into emphatic explicitness, because the images of “Toinette’s” sexual activities reinforced the performative impact of the pamphlets, leaving no room for doubt as to the outrageousness of the dramatised acts. Arguably, the performative explicitness is a direct effect of the illustration of the explicitly female body.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: Arts > Illustration
Philosophy & Psychology
Courses by Department: The Falmouth School of Art > Illustration
Depositing User: Carolyn Shapiro
Date Deposited: 23 Feb 2018 11:58
Last Modified: 11 Nov 2022 16:29


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