Please join us Thursday, November 10 for Göran Blix's talk entitled, "Baudelaire and the Heroism of Modern Life,” at 4:30pm in Pigott Hall, Room 216. As always, refreshments will be served. Abstract and bio below.
Abstract: “Baudelaire and the Heroism of Modern Life”
The “heroism of modern life” is an expression coined by Baudelaire in the Salon of 1845 and further developed in the Salon of 1846. What did it mean? Why did he urge painters, not just to turn their attention resolutely to modern life, but also to find beauty, grandeur, and heroic qualities in it, especially given his well-known aversion to progress? In this paper, I argue that the program he announced in the Salons confronts one of the major dilemmas of post-revolutionary aesthetics: the need to endow modern equality—in essence, a denial of prestige and distinction– with the heroic aura that could establish it as the foundational political virtue of age. The argument engages closely with Baudelaire’s celebration of modern dress code (the habit noir), the aristocracy of dandies, and the majesty of grief.
Göran Blix is Associate Professor of French at Princeton University. His interests include romanticism, realism, the politics of aesthetics, the historical imagination, environmental literature, and animal studies. He has published articles on Balzac, Hugo, Michelet, Flaubert, Tocqueville, the Goncourt brothers, Leconte de Lisle, and Zola, among others, and his book on romantic historicism, From Paris to Pompeii: French Romanticism and the Cultural Politics of Archeology (2008), looks the impact of the nascent science of archeology on modern secular attitudes to death, memory, and immortality. He is currently completing a book entitled The Heroism of Modern Life, which examines literary democratization in works by Baudelaire, Hugo, Balzac, Michelet, and others by studying shifting conceptions of the heroic in post-revolutionary France. Concurrently, he is working on the representation of nature and animals in nineteenth-century France.
We look forward to seeing you!