You are currently viewing SEM VALE : 01/02/2024, 17 h 30, Lynn Festa, « Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Canary »

SEM VALE : 01/02/2024, 17 h 30, Lynn Festa, « Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Canary »

  • Post category:Séminaire

Nous aurons le plaisir de nous retrouver jeudi 1er février à 17h30 à la bibliothèque de l’UFR pour écouter Lynn Festa (Rutgers University): « Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Canary ». Vous trouverez le résumé de sa communication ci-dessous.

Séance organisée en collaboration avec  l’Axe Modernités 16-18.

Abstract: Kept as pets, trained as songsters, and bred—bioengineered— for human auditory and visual pleasure, eighteenth-century canaries were living devices that preserved tunes in order to reproduce and perform them for humans. Natural historians and birdkeepers debated over whether the birds were recording, repeating, learning, or responding— reducing the bird, at one extreme, to a kind of mechanism, and making it into an active participant in a musical collaboration, at the other. Drawing on natural histories, breeding manuals, canary training handbooks, musical automatons, and paintings by Hogarth and Chardin, this paper examines the movement of the eighteenth-century canary across the shifting threshold between the organic and the mechanical, human and animal, and nature and art.

Bionote: Lynn Festa specializes in eighteenth-century literature and culture, with an emphasis on the role played by literature and literary form in the elaboration of categories of human difference in Britain, France and their colonies. Her first book, Sentimental Figures of Empire in Eighteenth-Century Britain and France (Johns Hopkins, 2006), examined how the culture of sensibility welded the affective response to other people to broader structures of classification in order to both include and exclude individuals from the class of humanity. Her second book, Fiction Without Humanity: Person, Animal, Thing in Early Enlightenment Literature and Culture (Penn, 2019), drew on riddles, fables, novels, scientific instruments, and trompe l’oeil painting to analyze the shifting terms in which human difference from animals, things, and machines was expressed. Fiction Without Humanity won the 51st annual James Russell Lowell Prize from the Modern Language Association and the Oscar Kenshur Prize for the best interdisciplinary book in eighteenth-century studies from the Center for Eighteenth-Century Studies at Indiana University.

Festa is the author of more than 25 articles and book chapters on a wide array of topics, including slavery, human rights, it-narratives, cosmetics, and a 1796 tax on dogs. Her article, “Personal Effects: Wigs and Possessive Individualism in the Long Eighteenth Century,” was awarded the James L. Clifford Prize for best article by the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies.