French students at Pomona College have the opportunity to apply for funding for intensive summer research through the Summer Undergraduate Research Program. Below are recent SURP projects by French students.

2014

Temperance and Transformation: Absinthe and the Aperitif in France

Luke Miller (2015); Mentor(s): Margaret Waller

Abstract: This summer, I was the recipient of the French Department's Rosen Travel Grant, which extended my studies in Paris, France, for a month. Originally, I intended to conduct a history of anise in French culture; however, after extensive research at libraries in Paris, my focus shifted to absinthe, the Temperance movement in France, and the subsequent transformation of French drinking culture. The Temperance movement in France reached its zenith at the end of the 19th century, bolstered by nationalistic and religious discourse surrounding the future of the French "race" after its defeat in the Franco-Prussian war. Absinthe was the target of Temperance groups, and through an analysis of Temperance pamphlets and posters, I was able to observe the construction of the mythical reputation of this drink in popular culture and in literature, as well as its influence on the advertisements and marketing of later apéritifs, such as Ricard and Pernod. 
Funding Provided by: Maurice Rosen Student Research and Travel Fund

2013

Making Masculinity Modern: the Clergy, the Fashion Press, and Napoleon’s “New” Clothes

Hannah Pinkham (2015); Mentor(s): Margaret Waller

Abstract: While evolving gender norms have begun to erode the idea that fashion is inherently feminine, we still tend to assume it natural for women to follow fashion trends, while men adopt a disinterested approach to dress. My research for Professor Margaret Waller’s book, Napoleon’s Closet, challenges this assumption through a re-examination of the “Great Masculine Renunciation,” an 18th and 19th century phenomenon where previously flamboyant menswear became sober and standardized, leaving the frivolity of la mode to women. While many scholars have studied this transition, we are the first to examine the ways the French clergy, the men behind Paris’s early fashion magazines, and the emperor Napoleon intersected to inform the construction of modern masculinity. Drawing from historical accounts and contemporary scholarship, we analyze narratives that challenge and explain our modern understanding of men and fashion: priests highly concerned with what they wore and how they wore it; Pierre de la Mésangère, a cleric turned prominent fashion editor who publicly denied his interest in fashion while hoarding thousands of garments; and Napoleon’s careful attention to dress as a means of reinforcing political power. We find that the modern expectation for men to downplay or “closet” their appearance for fear of exposure is not inherent or based in individual desire; rather, it is an historical and contingent phenomenon heavily influenced by 18th and 19th century sociocultural developments.
Funding Provided by: Pomona College SURP