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Mary D. Sheriff
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, NC 27599-1350)
Enchanted Islands: Picturing the Allure of Conquest in 18th-Century France

This project analyzes the enchanted island as represented in 18th-century France, interrogating its appearance in image, text, performance, and material culture. Representations of the enchanted island linked the fictional isles on which French kings had earlier displayed their power in royal fetes to commentaries on real islands that France claimed in the 18th century. I argue that enchanted islands offered fertile ground for representing, affirming, and subverting ideals of power, gender, race, and national identity, and for displaying the seductive powers of art. The enchanted island, as defined in my larger narrative, possessed the French imagination as an ideal site for exploring tensions inherent within and among those ideals at a crucial moment in their development. My project also demonstrates how rococo art, now seen as escapist fantasy, animated the poles of truth and illusion, reason and pleasure, duty and delight that were central components of Enlightenment thought.

Project fields:
Art History and Criticism

Fellowships for University Teachers

Research Programs

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2010 – 6/30/2011