Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2018

Document Type

Thesis

Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors

Department

Humanities

First Advisor

Stephanie Rowe

Second Advisor

Thora Brylowe

Third Advisor

Aimee Kilbane

Fourth Advisor

Paul Gordon

Abstract

The nature of the interaction between life and art has been a point of dispute in the field of Humanities for centuries, and we have failed to reach a consensus on which one imitates or informs the other. During the Romantic era, it was particularly difficult to separate the two, especially when considering some of the parties, balls, and fêtes that took place in that time. Romantic novelist Georges Sand provides a Romantic theory of the party as a work of art in her novel Lélia, and provides criteria that the ideal ball must meet in order to be successful. This thesis utilizes Sand’s criteria in the analysis of several Romantic parties —some of which are actual historical events and some are fictional representations— in order to determine their success as not only social events, but also as works of art. Romantic parties and their literary counterparts provided a unique and spectacular environment in which guests could, in the words of Sand, “approach the impossible” and cater to “the most voracious imaginations and the most capricious desires.” Ultimately, Romantic parties, even the ones that took place in the real world, had to “satisfy the artist” in order to be truly perfect, meaning that they had to transform life into art and bring art to life.

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