Postcards From Tahiti: Images Of The Other From William Hodges To Pierre Loti And Paul Gauguin
This dissertation considers the making of the Tahitian other through verbal and pictorial images. My interdisciplinary analysis is grounded in the productive use of concepts such as framing and mise-en-scène. Taking as an example accounts of the first landing in Tahiti, I argue that, after the end of the eighteenth century, the status of images in travel relations changes: from allegorical or ornamental to realist or truthful. This change is concomitant with a turn within cultural anthropology, which displaces the other from absolute stranger to merely different, ultimately giving birth to the figure of the métèque (foreigner). Following this insight, I formulate an aesthetic theory for Loti and Gauguin, that envisions them as making verbal and pictorial images eroticizing, depersonalizing, and marginalizing, as had already been observed about colonial postcards of Algeria by Malek Alloula in his Harem Colonial. Informed both by key anthropological and sociological texts (Goffman, Lévy-Bruhl) and the technical-historical context (the emergence of photographs and postcards), I closely analyze the works of Loti and Gauguin in order to demonstrate that what is at stake in their use of words and images actually goes beyond the literary or artistic frame, as each author develops different strategies to cope with the replacement of the Other by the different. Loti's obsession with self-portraits and his re-creation of a colonial empire in his Rochefort house, and Gauguin's repeated motifs from Brittany to Polynesia, I suggest, are just so many responses to loss.
Tahiti; Paul Gauguin; Pierre Loti; William Hodges; Henri Lebeau; postcards; Patagonia; travel; photography
Melas, Natalie Anne-Marie; Berger, Anne Emanuelle
Ph.D. of Romance Studies
Doctor of Philosophy
Dissertation or Thesis