Undergraduate Honors Thesis


Singing a New World: Performing Colonialism Under Louis XIV and Louis XV Public Deposited

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  • This thesis embarks upon an in-depth analysis of Native American appearances in French opera and ballet from 1685-1736 alongside their colonial and metropolitan historical contexts. It argues that colonial debates did not exclusively affect the colonies, even if hundreds of miles of ocean separated them from their metropolitan government—in fact, it is questionable if they affected the colonies themselves at all. The literary cultures developed through colonization found their way into artistic works no matter how superfluous and apolitical they may have seemed, but they did not do so for their own sake. Rather, colonial happenings threw the ability of metropolitan power structures into question in novel ways—through operas and ballets, in our case—and they did their part in evolving ideas of nobility and French culture during the Enlightenment. The appropriation of Native American culture by Jean-Philippe Rameau and Jean-Baptiste Lully on France’s most prestigious stages resulted in exoticism being used to critique the state of the nobility in France. 

Date Awarded
  • 2023-04-03
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Last Modified
  • 2023-04-17
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