How does the king’s language become the mother tongue of a nation? This talk will explore the cultural politics of the French language around 1540, examining the famous Edict of Villers-Cotterêts—the law issued by François I that codifies the langage maternel francoys as the exclusive language of justice in France—alongside the visual aesthetic of Fontainebleau and the phonetic spelling reforms of Jacques Peletier du Mans in order to understand how French becomes “naturalized” as a national idiom.
Katie Chenoweth is Assistant Professor of French at Princeton University. Her research focuses on the history of books and other media, with a concentration on the sixteenth century. Her first book, The Prosthetic Tongue: Printing Technology and the Rise of the French Language, is forthcoming in the Material Texts series with the University of Pennsylvania Press. At Éditions du Seuil in Paris, Katie Chenoweth is the director of the Bibliothèque Derrida collection, which publishes the seminars and other posthumous works of philosopher Jacques Derrida. At Princeton, she is the director of “Derrida’s Margins,” a digital humanities project dedicated to the marginalia in Derrida’s personal library.
Sponsored by NYU Center for French Language and Cultures