Date of Completion


Embargo Period



21st-century French literature, communication, digital humanities, fantasy, French literature, mapping, media, medieval romances, objects, textual worlds

Major Advisor

Anne Berthelot

Associate Advisor

Eliane DalMolin

Associate Advisor

Alain Lescart

Associate Advisor

Fiona Somerset

Field of Study

Literatures, Languages, and Cultures


Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Campus Access


Based on the common thread of objects that are used for communicative purposes to compare a selection of French medieval romances and contemporary French fantasy novels, this dissertation explores how certain figures—who are not members of the dominant groups in their respective cultures—use objects that function as a type of media to communicate complex messages, since these individuals are unable to employ typical communication methods such as speaking and writing, due to their socio-cultural status. Given the importance of communication as a foundation of community and the means of interaction between individuals, understanding how communication occurs in a textual universe is an essential means to understanding that universe and its inhabitants, as well as a way of exploring how we, as humans, need to communicate, and find creative methods of doing so, regardless of whether our environment hinders our attempts. This study focuses on a series of topics to progress to an understanding of how and why these objects are used for communication: first, the textual universes, which include real-like worlds and otherworlds; second, the objects themselves; third, the circulation routes these objects take and the boundary crossings they make as they circulate as forms of media; fourth, the figures that use these objects for communicative purposes; and fifth, what the messages are that these objects communicate. This analysis combines textual research with methodologies from fields including medieval studies, media studies, material cultural studies, and digital humanities, on the one hand bringing more varied insights into my textual analyses, and on the other hand opening these texts to wider interpretation. The project also focuses on how these works on the edge of their genres serve a cultural function, providing an imaginary realm in which to explore alternative types of media and techniques of communication. Finally, this research argues for the particular relevance of fantasy literature from all periods—its ability to give readers a better understanding of their own world by exploring different and strange worlds—as well as how their filiation from French medieval romances is part of what makes these French fantasy works specifically French.

Available for download on Saturday, August 05, 2028