Literary Poetics and Social Uses of Public Communication in French (15th-16th c.)


The research project examines the development of public rhetoric in French during major upheavals, such as the invention of the printing press and the rise of the Reformation, aiming to demonstrate how Early Modern societies evolved into media societies. It explores how the cultural model of the “orator”, initially promoted by intellectuals, was embraced by broader communities that cultivated specific poetic genres and used them as media. The project seeks to understand why and how unprofessional authors and ordinary readers instrumentalized literary forms of expression to intervene in the public sphere and influence opinion networks?

To define the concept of “medialiterature”, the project takes a comparative approach to unpublished texts and archives. It examines poetics and social uses of verse historiography, occasional poetry, and political theater in France and French-speaking areas of modern-day Switzerland and Belgium between 1450 and 1550. In doing so, the project aims to develop a new research field that integrates literary and cultural history, as well as the history of media.

Fragment of a fresco “Dame Rhétorique et ses douze suivantes” by Georges Chastelain, Lausanne, Château Saint-Maire, ca. 1500 © Photo : Bertin & Gindroz