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Fabienne Moore publishes article on Gustave Doré’s early works

Over the past three summers Associate Professor Professor of French Fabienne Moore has been researching the early illustrated albums of 19th century French artist Gustave Doré in his native city of Strasbourg, France. The Bibliothèque des Musées holds all first editions of Doré’s work, as well as periodicals in which he published his first drawings. In the rare book room of the Bibliothèque Universitaire, Moore was also able to hold an engraved printing block used for his illustrations of the Aventures du Baron de Munchausen. But while Doré is best known for his illustrations of the masterpieces of world literature, he began his career with four innovative sequential graphic narratives, one of which is the focus of Moore’s article titled “Gustave Doré’s Histoire de la Sainte Russie (1854): The Invention of Graphic Rhetoric, or the Artist At War.” Published in Dix-Neuf, the online Journal of the Society of Dix-Neuviémistes, the article contains thirty illustrations and examines Doré’s tour de force in addressing the violence of war via a caricatural history of Russia in ways that anticipates modern bande dessinée tackling twentieth-century warfare.
It was a chance encounter with a facsimile of Doré’s album on the shelves of the UO Knight Library several years ago that spurred Moore to teach and write about Doré’s 1854 Histoire de la Sainte Russie. Here was an “unidentified literary object” as Moore likes to put it to her students. About Russian history, triggered by the Crimean War, written in French, with over 500 sequential drawings and irreverent captions full of double entendre and literary references, whose reception so bitterly disappointed Doré that he never referred to it again, the book occupies an in-between that has kept it mostly out of sight of art historians and literary critics. Interpreted with the multidisciplinary lens of comic studies and highlighted for its modernity, Doré’s early work finally finds the attention and audience it craved back in 1854.

This research was made possible by the College of Arts and Sciences Summer Stipend for the Humanities and a Summer Research Award from the Office of the Vice-President for Research.