Download Full Text (324 KB)

Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Stephen Buttes


Department of International Language and Culture Studies


The topic of this poster is class performance in the nineteenth century France as shown in two short stories by nineteenth century French writers: “My Uncle Jules” (1883) by Guy de Maupassant and “Master Cornille’s Secret” (1879) by Alphonse Daudet. The term “class” is defined according to the Conflict Theory of Karl Marx – as a group of people united by their relationship to the means of production. The presenter is particularly interested in examining the relationship between the aristocracy — who claims a natural class status—and other classes, such as the bourgeoisie and the poor. She has identified in these texts the following problems: Is there such a phenomenon as “natural” class performance (as the aristocracy would seem to claim) or are all class performances artificial by nature? Does class performance produce upward class mobility and, if so, does it work equally well for all classes? Can fantasies - a moving force behind class performance - produce reality? More generally, how can literature help us understand ways and methods that people used to navigate complicated class dynamics in nineteenth century France? The presenter explores these questions using the model developed by Kevin Swafford in his article “Performance Anxiety, or the Production of Class in Anthony Trollope’s The Claverings” in addition to several supporting articles.


Modern Languages

Class Performance in the Nineteenth Century France Presented in Short Stories of the Nineteenth Century French Writers