PETIT TRIANON AND MARIE ANTOINETTE: REPRESENTATION, INTERPRETATION, PERCEPTION
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This interdisciplinary thesis belongs to Marie Antoinette studies. The contemporary dissonant commodification of the controversial historical character of the last Queen of France, detected at her former home, Petit Trianon, drives the course of the thesis research. Considering the complexity and controversy of the subject, the thesis seeks to make a contribution to extant scholarship by clarifying important modern history issues through a fresh approach: by using art history as an indicator in assessing the historical truth of the narrative of Petit Trianon, the residence identified as home to the last Queen of France.
The thesis examines Petit Trianon and Marie Antoinette in the context of four major narratives - the historical, cinematic, architectural and heritage narratives - relevant to the contemporary heritage interpretation of Petit Trianon as well as its visitor perceptions. In addition to sourcing evidence for the arguments originating in art history information, the thesis relies on the data collection provided by a tailor-made survey for the topic, placing the results in the wider context of a hermeneutical interpretation of data found in either history or contemporary popular culture. The array of Marie Antoinette’s images detected by the analysis charts the commodification of this historical character at Petit Trianon: its production and consumption.
It is through the assessment of this commodification that the present thesis reveals the misconceptions surrounding the historical character best known as Marie Antoinette. The thesis argues that the true role of the last Queen of France was successfully obscured through juxtaposition with her perception by the French collective memory. In other words, the perception of Marie Antoinette had subverted historical truth. Furthermore, the commodification of her historical character is perpetuated in an endless chain of representations fuelled by postmodern consumerism.
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