Research Grants 2017


  • Elisa BACCINI, Langue et culture dans l’Italie napoléonienne. (Language and culture in Napoleonic Italy)
    Thesis supervised by Prof. Alfredo VIGGIANO (University of Padua – Italy).

This thesis aims to offer an analysis of the aspects and implications of Napoleonic language politics in Italy, as a reply to questions raised concerning the activation and reception of Napoleonic linguistic initiatives. Such initiatives concerned, in different ways, all Italian territories under French influence: the departments directly annexed to the Empire, the Kingdom of Italy and the Kingdom of Naples.
The study will begin with a general overview, concentrating on government bodies and their ways of working, whilst at the same time considering the other domains in which language was expressed: sociability, theatres, printed news, schools. As for culture politics, the aim of the thesis will be to test, in linguistic terms, the rigidity and coherence of the supposed Napoleonic cultural imperialism, thereby offering a contribution to the historiographical debate on the (presumed) aggressive and abstract nature of French government of annexed territories. Even after the end of French domination, the linguistic question in Italy had lost none of its power, indeed, the National question was to bring it strongly back to the forefront. Above all, the thesis will attempt to understand the relationship between Napoleon’s linguistic policy and the reformulation of the language problem in Restoration and Risorgimento Italy.

  • Emmanuelle BORDURE, Formes et espaces de l’architecture religieuse entre 1760 et 1848 : le cas des églises paroissiales en Ile-de-France. (Forms and spaces in religious architecture between 1760 and 1848: parish churches in Ile-de-France)
    Thesis supervised by Prof. Alexandre GADY (University of Paris – Sorbonne, France).

In the vast ensemble of studies of the art of the so-called Neo-Classical period, religious architecture has often been ignored. To date, no one has written on the corpus of religious buildings over this period of nearly one hundred years. It is therefore opportune to study religious architecture 1760 – 1848, and in particular the typology of the parish church in Paris.
Such a long period was chosen in order to make it possible to offer a re-evaluation of the generally accepted break between the 18th and 19th centuries. The aim will be to try to identify the links between the periods from the end of the Ancien Régime (with its regeneration of the sacred space, in particular via the Eglise de la Madeleine and Saint-Philippe du Roule), through the First Empire and Restoration, leading up to the July Monarchy, when Neo-Gothic architectural principles began to bear fruit.
The thesis will trace the stylistic changes in parish church architecture over a short “à l’antique” century, identifying the masterpieces and their models, and highlighting the diversity within this art in the greater Paris area. This is a little-known and often-ignored heritage that has been obscured by the one-size-fits-all definition of Neo-Classicism and too often identified in a reductivist way simply to the use of columns and pediments. The intention is to reveal a rich and complex ensemble, in which the contradictions express a permanent tension between the glorification of the divine, the archaeology of forms and architectural modernity.

  • Kilian Harrer, Our Lady across the Border: Marian Pilgrimage in Revolutionary and Napoleonic Europe.
    PhD thesis in History supervised by Prof. Suzanne Desan (University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA)

For anticlerical European elites, around 1800, pilgrimage represented a form of fanaticism fragilising the borders of Revolutionary and Imperial states. Meanwhile, countless Catholics pursued powerful grace from the Virgin Mary in a time of unprecedented turmoil. In Revolutionary and Napoleonic Europe (1789-1815), the great Marian pilgrimages mattered urgently—both to those searching for religious renewal and to governments seeking to regulate religious practice, control mobility, and defend constantly shifting borders. My dissertation aims to illuminate the stakes of these pilgrimages on a European scale, focusing on three case studies: Einsiedeln in Switzerland, Loreto in Italy, and Jasna Góra in Poland.
How did various political upheavals and turning points shape the lived religious experience of pilgrims, and how did the internal dynamics of pilgrimage develop at the same time? In fact, from regionalisation to emergent links between exile and pilgrimage, from feminisation to militarisation, several highly significant processes unfolded around the European strongholds of Marian devotion. Authorities hostile to “superstition” certainly tried to rein in the cult of the Virgin, though they did not always succeed. By contrast, after coming to power, Napoleon initially took conciliatory measures, for example, by re-establishing Einsiedeln Abbey. In order to explore the effects of this back and forth, I ground my research in multi-perspectival source readings, using archival material produced by religious as well as state institutions.

  • Marco Emanuele OMES, La sacralisation politique de Napoléon Bonaparte au moyen de célébrations publiques civiles et religieuses (1799-1815). Etude comparée à l’échelle européenne. (The political sacralisation of Napoleon Bonaparte via public, civic and religious celebrations (1799-1815). A comparative, Europe-wide study)
    Thesis supervised by Prof. Daniele MENOZZI and by Prof. Jacques-Olivier BOUDON (Scuola normale di Pisa, Italy – University Paris IV Sorbonne).

The aim of this is thesis is a comparative analysis of the diverse means mobilised – for the most part fêtes and the modifications in liturgy at religious ceremonies – via which Napoleon Bonaparte was increasingly glorified and sacralised not only in the Empire but also on a European scale, thus including the satellite states such as Italy, Spain, Holland and Germany. An attempt will be made to evaluate the impact of public celebrations in which Napoleon’s personality was reinforced and in which his power was represented. What were the foundations of this, what were Napoleon’s aims, how precisely was Napoleon sacralised and what was the political project behind it?
The context for the study is the cultural history of politics, and the following questions will be considered: how was power harnessed and how was it manifested in society and in what ideas, values, symbols and rites was it mobilised, all with the purpose of guaranteeing Napoleon’s political stability and his legitimacy. Since Napoleonic history is characterised by a real European dimension, it is imperative to offer a comparative analysis of the festal projects mounted by the governments of countries occupied by the French and the reactions of local people to the manifestations of the changes in the regime, and to consider what image of Napoleon and his authority was projected in heterogeneous contexts.

  • Zachary STOLTZFUS, Publication of Property: hypothèque and credit mobilisation in modern France.
    PhD thesis in History supervised by Prof. Rafe BLAUFARB (Florida State University – USA).

My research concerns credit—the economic lifeblood of both Old Regime and post-Revolutionary France. Specifically, it examines the form of credit predominant to France: land-based credit arrangements in which loans followed the piece of immovable property leveraged as a guarantor, a system known as l’hypothèque. As historians such as Clare Crowston and Michael Sonenscher have shown, credit was vital to all levels of both the Old Regime and Revolutionary economy. The way hypothèque functioned, however, was dramatically altered by the French Revolution. I hypothesize that the personal and reputation-based credit of the Old Regime, explored in detail by Crowsten and others, was replaced during the French Revolution by a revamped system of hypothèque-based credit, in which land and the impersonal loans attached to land were grafted into a new transparent legal regime requiring the official registration, publication, and tracking of loans. Studying this process thus promises fundamentally to revise our understanding of the role of credit in Old Regime and post-Revolutionary France, and the long-standing effects of its legal delineation during the French Revolution. My dissertation explores the rise of hypothèque in the Old Regime, the needed development of a new hypothèque system during the French Revolution, the clarification of this new system by the Napoleonic Code, and its significance during the first half of the nineteenth century.

  • Marta TOMCZAK, Relations entre centre et périphéries sur l’exemple du fonctionnement du Duché de Varsovie dans le Premier Empire français. (Relations between the centre the periphery: the example of the workings of the Duchy of Warsaw within the French Empire)
    Thesis supervised by Prof. Jaroslaw CZUBATY (University of Warsaw, Poland)

The aim of this thesis is the study of the effects of French politics on its periphery, taking specifically the example of the Duchy of Warsaw and the changes in civil law introduced via the Code Civil in 1804. The hypothesis proposed here is that, from the Napoleonic point of view, it is the degree of efficacy of juridical reforms which determines whether a country can be considered central or peripheral terrain. The example of the Duchy of Warsaw seems particularly propitious in helping us to understand centre-periphery relations, given that Polish lands were never administered directly by French agents; furthermore, France never claimed rights over those lands. As a consequence, comparison of the effects of Paris policies in the Duchy with those in other territories managed more directly, such as Italy, will make it possible not only establish general characteristics of French policy towards its peripheries, but also to evaluate what type of cooperation with the periphery was most effective, in French eyes, in terms of the introduction of reforms.


  • The “MINOU AMIR-ASLANI” Research Grant, 2016: Magalie MYOUPO, La sainteté laïque au XIXème siècle : une utopie littéraire. (Secular sainthood in the 19th century: a literary utopia.)
    Thesis supervised by Prof. Paule PETITIER (Université Paris Diderot VII, France).

This thesis takes as its central theme the secular saint, a recurrent figure in the 19th century. The figure appears in many different texts, whether novels of works of history, always exemplary in every way, and tinged with a slight transcendentalism. And regardless of whether the goal was “the Republic”, “art” or “science”, the humblest of mortals could achieve this sort of sainthood. The world of ideas set in place by religious hagiographies was to be harnessed to express new values.
The figure of the “secular saint”, a priori two mutually contradictory terms, emerged on the back of two phenomena. First, it was catalysed by the resurgence of a certain form of Catholicism strongly linked to the Restoration. This movement had as its corollary the return to favour in the literary world of Christianity; Chateaubriand’s Génie du christianisme, published in 1802, is the first manifestation of this. On the other hand, the secularisation found its source in the reaction against the Catholic church – in particular, the Society of Jesus – which rose to prominence in the 1840s. From Social Romanticism to Naturalism, from Michelet, via Georges Sand, to Eugène Sue, Lamartine and Emile Zola, historians and writers bought into this imagined hagiography not so much to celebrate the Ancien Régime and the permanence of its values but rather to propagate, via a known form, a new polemical form of education based on a principle of emancipation and no longer on imitation. Hence the creation of “modern saints” (the apt expression is Michelet’s, from his lecture at the Collège de France, on 18 January 1844). These saints, figures symbolic of the future and forged on the anvil of opponents of the tradition, were endowed with impressive power: because of their existence in the world (and not in heaven), it seemed like they could embody the dream of real community and reconnect the social bond. Furthermore, in a century of disenchantment, this modern “resymbolisation*” of narrative structures, and the hagiographical motifs subtending them, questioned whether the world of religious imagery was still necessary for the building of community.
*Claude Millet, Le Légendaire au XIXe siècle: poésie, mythe et vérité, Paris, Presses universitaires de France, Coll. Perspectives littéraires, p. 25.

This research grant was created in memory of Mme Minou Amir-Aslani, woman of letters and lover of history. The grant is supported and financed by her children.

Minou Amir-Aslani was born in Teheran on 18 January, 1935, and died in Paris on 13 September, 2010. She was a keen enthusiast of literature and history, most notably that of the French Revolution and the First Empire. One particular fascination for her was the life of the Emperor Napoleon I and the role he played in the codification of laws and the organisation of the judicial system in France. Her birth in Iran at a troubled moment in its history inspired in her a determination to work throughout her life (spent mostly in France and Germany) for openness and the acceptance of other regardless of differences. She greatly admired the way history and law was taught in France; indeed the tradition of French civil law heavily influenced the judicial system and positive law in her native country. And she had the utmost respect for university research. In her opinion, the only road worth taking was that of the search for knowledge, which in itself guarantees the independence of spirit and freedom of those who choose that road.