Institutional Scholarship

Prison, Publicity, and the Carceral "self": Mirabeau between Ancien Regime and Revolution

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dc.contributor.advisor Graham, Lisa Jane, 1963-
dc.contributor.author Li, Shuang
dc.date.accessioned 2019-12-06T16:16:48Z
dc.date.available 2019-12-06T16:16:48Z
dc.date.issued 2019
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10066/21926
dc.description.abstract Philosophers like Montesquieu, Voltaire and Beccaria made criminal law reform central to their agenda in the second half of the eighteenth century. By consequence, the carceral subject emerged in their denunciation of the secret use of the lettre de cachet and arbitrary detention. Honoré Gabriel Riqueti, comte de Mirabeau, an aristocratic libertine and a future revolutionary, took up his pen to reveal his prison experience, bringing the secrets of the state prison to public attention. In appealing to public curiosity, Mirabeau crafted a carceral “self” to protest royal despotism, reclaim liberty, and address public opinion for justice. This thesis uses the figure of Mirabeau to trace the transformation of the carceral subject into the carceral “self” between the Ancien Regime and the French Revolution. A microcosm of the problems in the judicial system, the carceral “self” fused two threads of the late enlightenment—sensibility and rationality—to reach the public, echoingthe philosophers’ call to reform. By revealing his private experience of incarceration, Mirabeau’s memoirs fueled public curiosity and became a best-seller in the clandestine book market on the eve of the Revolution. Seizing on the popularity of his memoir, the medium of print, and the expanding consumer culture, Mirabeau projected the carceral “self” into the public sphere, glorifying himself as an icon of the Revolution avant la lettre. Emphasizing transparency as the precondition of justice, the carceral “self” demanded due process, legal protection of individual liberty, and equality before the law. Furthermore, the eulogies that greeted news of Mirabeau’s death in 1791 referred to his prison experience, transforming him into a patriotic hero. As a pre-revolutionary emblem of liberty, Mirabeau’s carceral “self” anticipated the ideal citizen in the early stages of the Revolution.
dc.description.sponsorship Haverford College. Department of History
dc.language.iso eng
dc.rights.uri http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/
dc.subject.lcsh Mirabeau, Honoré-Gabriel de Riqueti, comte de, 1749-1791
dc.subject.lcsh Imprisonment
dc.subject.lcsh France -- History -- Revolution, 1789-1799
dc.title Prison, Publicity, and the Carceral "self": Mirabeau between Ancien Regime and Revolution
dc.type Thesis
dc.rights.access Open Access


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