This talk aims to explore the politicization of the past in Protestant poet-soldier-historian Agrippa d’Aubigné’s epic, Les Tragiques (1616). Focusing on the epic’s book of martyrs, “Les Feux,” it will be argued that D’Aubigné revives sixteenth-century accounts of Protestant martyrdom to propagate an alternate understanding of the religious minority in seventeenth-century France. The martyrs of “Les Feux” are not victims of a formally suppressed religious minority, but rather champions of an admirable and heroic community. For D’Aubigné, “politicizing the past” means to render the violent refusal of the Protestant minority political in a way that positively impacts his readership’s perception of the religious other.
Ashley Voeks is a Visiting Assistant Professor of French at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. Ashley earned her Ph.D. in French Studies from the University of Texas at Austin in 2019. Her dissertation, “Pourquoi me persécutes-tu?: Martyrdom and Religious Violence in French Literature, 1554-1643,” considers French writers who engage with the subjects of martyrdom and religious violence in order to elicit affective responses in readers to the persecuted religious minority. Ashley is the author of several articles on Agrippa d’Aubigné’s Tragiques, as well as a chapter contribution in a co-edited volume, Polemic and Literature Surrounding the French Wars of Religion, published in 2019 with De Gruyter Press. Her current project is a study of the politics of religious toleration from the French Reformation to the 18th century.
Sponsored by the Department of French Literature, Thought, and Culture