Mapping modernity

by Olson, Kory Ernest.

Abstract (Summary)
iii Many French politicians and academics believed that a lack of map-reading skills contributed to France’s defeat in the Franco-Prussian War. Following this loss, the introduction of geography into the national educational curriculum changed how maps were used and understood in the early Third Republic. Used widely by travel guidebook authors and by government officials administering the city prior to 1870, maps took on an additional role during the Third Republic: through visual representation they helped reaffirm the republic’s desire for a common national identity. This identity, based on the modernity and stability of the new regime, helped a volatile France redefine itself and its capital city. This dissertation is a study of France’s view of Paris and of how the government and publishers wished to portray its capital city to the world. This study aims to define how France promoted Paris as a modern, stable capital city, and how the government used maps as instruments of power associated with the emergence of a more confident Republic. Overreaching concepts in the study are the notions of map discourse (color, text, shapes, and symbols), modernity, and republicanism. Though guidebook discourse has been studied in detail, the examination of maps as a valid tool for disseminating the government’s message has been only summarily treated. Studies in this area address primarily French travel or tourism, focusing mainly on the texts supporting these maps, such as travel guides. Among the maps this study examines are those published by the city of Paris and its government agencies, along with maps from the Guide Joanne travel guidebook series. To explore the background of these maps, I use approaches and methods in cultural history, but also rely on semiotics and historiography. The study’s importance lies in multiple definitions of modernity and in how those iv definitions were used to promote the French capital. 1870 Paris was a damaged city, one prone to rebellion, and the French wished to counter this notion. Documenting the city as calm and republican on maps was one way to do just that. As the Third Republic continued, stability became the norm. Multiple Expositions Universelles served not only as demonstrations of national pride, but also as proof that Paris had recovered from both military defeat and internal strife with official and tourist guide map discourse helping to promulgate this message. Furthermore, as the French Third Republic became more confident in its ability to govern Paris, and France, and the French became better map readers, its discourse adapted. The examination of maps from the early Third Republic elucidates the changing nature of map use during this period as well as French ability to identify with the new government.
Bibliographical Information:


School:Pennsylvania State University

School Location:USA - Pennsylvania

Source Type:Master's Thesis



Date of Publication:

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