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Oliver, Elizabeth L.
Vision and disease in the Napoleonic description de l'Egypte (1809-1828) :
b the constraints of French intellectual imperialism and the roots of Egyptian self-definition
h [electronic resource] /
by Elizabeth L. Oliver.
[Tampa, Fla] :
University of South Florida,
ABSTRACT: This study analyzes the travel conventions manifest in the engravings of the thirty-volume Description de l'Egypte produced as a result of the Napoleonic campaign to Egypt in 1798 and published between 1809 and 1828. The first chapter examines the discourse established on Egypt in travelogues throughout the eighteenth century prior to the invasion of the country. I argue that the perceptions developed around the country did not stem from actual experience, but from political and economic motivations that cast Egypt in a light favorable for occupation.I examine how this perception was challenged during the collapse of distance between the French and Egyptians in the process of colonial encounter. Drawing upon medical records and proclamations of the French medical team in Egypt, I examine a specific epidemic known as ophthalmia that led to swollen, irritated eyes and eventual blindness throughout the French army in Egypt. While it is actually caused by Chlamydia, in eve ry appearance it makes in French medical records throughout the occupation, the disease was blamed on the climate, sunlight, and air specific to the land of Egypt. As a result, I argue that the Description's hyper-real contrasts of light and dark and amplified decay in its representations of the monuments residing in Egypt's ravaging climate are determined by the manner vision itself was altered by the epidemic of ophthalmia. I then contend that there exists a metaphorical parallel between the decaying pharaonic monuments in the Description and the perceived decay of modern Egyptian society that are linked by misconceptions of Egypt's climate. I conclude that the effect of Egypt's climate believed to destroy both physical monuments and physiological disposition was used as evidence to support the larger agenda of French imperialism that justified colonization of Egypt. Lastly, this study examines how Egyptians counteracted the negative discourse of their race by appropriating symbol s of their country used in European representations and altering them to develop a national identity. Tracing the time period from French occupation through British colonization, Egyptians were able to galvanize resistance while still working within the confines of colonial control.
Thesis (M.A.)--University of South Florida, 2006.
Includes bibliographical references.
Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format.
System requirements: World Wide Web browser and PDF reader.
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Title from PDF of title page.
Document formatted into pages; contains 186 pages.
Adviser: Elisabeth Fraser, Ph.D.
x Art History
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.