“La curiosité oisive est surtout affamée de spectacles. Elle demande plutôt du nouveau que du bon”: New Hermeneutics of Visuality in Louis Sébastien Mercier’s Tableau de Paris



Pestova, Anastasia

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This thesis aspires to study the way in which Louis Sebastien Mercier used description in Tableau de Paris to make commentary on issues of poverty, class division, and moral corruption in the streets of the capital city. By judging the space around him, in particular theatre performances, public spaces, and public spectacle Mercier brought to bear the issues of social inequality, economic hardship, and class conflict that underpinned prerevolutionary tensions. My research focuses particularly on visuality in theatre as well as visuality in the public space. In this capacity this paper will contextualize Mercier’s description of society and how it interacted with all forms of spectacle. It thus aims to provide an aerial perspective that will situate Mercier in relation to the visual, showcasing his attitude towards both the bourgeoisie and the tiers-état.



French, Enlightenment, Rousseau, Mercier, Diderot, Visuality