Enfant sauvage: entre l’ange et la bête : de nouveaux récits d’enfance au 18e siècle.

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2012-08-31

Authors

Fairweather, Erin Phyllis

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Abstract

This thesis examines the depiction of the feral child through the literary study of 18th and 19th century French texts. This body of research isn’t meant to establish historical facts, or to construct a global history of childhood, but rather it’s a work on the representation of humanity, on the issues surrounding the conceptualizations of childhood and animality that emerged parallel to changes in theological and philosophical ideas or mentalities. Reflecting upon the cases of Marie-Angélique le Blanc, Victor de l’Aveyron, and Kaspar Hauser, and supporting narratives as well as on related anthologies of edifying anecdotes of wise, virtuous, obedient children, this study shows patterns of imagery and themes that confirm that the ways of viewing the child in literature and society is linked to path of thought regarding questions of humanity; stories filled with spiritual connotations fade as faith in science moves to the forefront of inquiry.

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Keywords

Feral children, France, 18th Century, 19th Century, Philosophical thought, Enlightenment, literature, Itard, Victor de l'Aveyron, Marie Angelique le Blanc, Kaspar Hauser, narratives, Humanity, Animality, Savage, Wild

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