New Faculty Lecture Series: Dr. Karen Manna
From William Andrews
In eighteenth-century France, authors envisioned the French man of fashion as an “effeminate” and ridiculous, yet conniving and manipulative, aristocrat. The existence of this type in narratives and plays was predicated on the act of exploiting, or gaining power, over women. The act of “homosocial” triangulation ensured these men’s social success through the formulation of a power bond in which two men used one woman for their mutual gain. However, with the French Revolution in 1789 and the advent of the nineteenth-century man of fashion came a new type of triangulation, just as harmful to women, that was orchestrated in away that allowed a man of fashion to be seen as “élégant”, “adoré”, and ultimately successful rather than effeminate. This paper shows that narcissistic triangulation in 19th-century fiction is even more insidiously powerful than the former model: situating himself outside the realm of the bourgeois upper class is no longer enough in a post-Revolutionary society, the dandy must use and abuse as many women as profoundly as possible to reestablish himself as a masculine archetype in the new public sphere.