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Lavéant, Katell

NIAS Individual Fellowship

Joyful Culture and Books in sixteenth-century France

Research Question

What was the social role of joyful culture and its manifestations such as Carnival parades in sixteenth-century France? What cultural impact did the objects produced for such festivities have at the time, especially printed books? How can we study these books today to learn more about their authors, their publishers and their readers?

Project Description

In the late medieval and early modern period, joyful culture was, in France and in other areas of Europe, a crucial system of sociability. Thanks to playful performances such as carnival parades, this festive culture had an important role in securing social stability and cohesion. These spectacles made use of an inclusive form of parody, developed in themes such as friendship, the praise of drunkenness, sexuality and obscenity.

The social role of joyful culture has long been undervalued, as were its products, especially the vast number of playful books printed in the sixteenth century. By studying these books in their context of production, we understand the true impact of joyful culture and rediscover why these texts were so popular among publishers and readers alike.

Selected Publications

1) Katell Lavéant, “Medieval Joy”, In Bettina Papenburg (Eds.), Gender: Laughter, Farmington Hills, MI: Macmillan, 2017, pp. 131-145.

2) Katell Lavéant, “From the Parade to the Stage: Evolution and Significance of Personifications in Lyon’s Sotties (1566-1610)”, In Walter S. Melion & Bart Ramakers (Eds.), Personification – Embodying Meaning and Emotion, Leiden: Brill, 2016, pp. 211-233.

3) Katell Lavéant, Un théâtre des frontières. La culture dramatique dans les provinces du Nord aux XVe et XVIe siècles, Orléans: Paradigme, 2011.


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