Staging the Americas in Eighteenth-Century France and its Colonies
Stevens, April Eileen
This dissertation compares French plays about the Americas and the French colonies with plays produced in the French colonies in order to better understand the dynamics of the complicated colonial relationship between France and its colonies. This study argues that French theater about the colonies and French colonial theater played a vital role in defining a collective French identity both on the stage and amongst the spectators, and thus the public. French theater was particularly important to developing a French identity because of the social and political influence of French theater during the eighteenth century. This work shows that depictions of the Americas on the stage increasingly influenced the formation of French identity, and aided in the construction of a separate French colonial identity while addressing issues of race, gender, slavery, and nationalism. Finally, this dissertation demonstrates how theater about the Americas contributed to broader colonial discourse and Enlightenment thought.