Since their inception in 1807, sociétés anonymes, or limited liability joint stock companies, have been the stuff of economic, reformist, literary, and even artistic myth. Most common today is the view of these modern-day corporations as instruments of the financial order emerged in the West after the Great Depression. In the French nineteenth century, however, these companies were regarded as an integral part of a twofold national project, one meant to fund vast plans of public infrastructure, while linking the population with the monetary benefits of speculation. This dissertation examines the role of the société anonyme in the creation of a speculative architecture for the mass in the two decades following the Franco-Prussian War in France. The research considers the pressing need for association in the early years of the Third Republic as the setting for the emergence of collectivities rooted in operations of betting, investing, anonymizing, and inventing—that is, practices instantiating modalities of association located outside the markers of class, taste, and tradition characteristic of the old order. The dissertation proceeds as a case-history of the Société anonyme de l’Hippodrome de Paris and its architectural product, the Hippodrome de l’Alma (1878-1893). The chapters trace the interactions of this architectural, financial, and technological assemblage—the largest entertainment venue to emerge from late nineteenth-century Paris—with the investors, experts, audiences, and critics involved in its brief existence. They also provide insight into the ways in which this model was propagated in the capital through numerous other architectural ventures based on risk distribution, from swimming pools to hippodromes to skating rinks to velodromes. In exploring these spaces and their myriad technical, natural, and social interdependencies, I argue that a “relational” architecture was actualized which put the limits of nineteenth-century realism to the test, setting architecture in dialogue with the experiments of the painters and writers who routinely visited, reflected on, and represented these buildings. These fin-de-siècle collectivities, I conclude, bring evidence of a seldom explored side of modernism, where mass and anonymity are not just foils for self and individuality, not mere embodiments of anomie and alienation, but actors in the period’s effort to instantiate its own idea of order.
|Commitee:||Lavin, Sylvia, Papapetros, Spyros, Tresch, John|
|School Location:||United States -- New Jersey|
|Source:||DAI-A 81/10(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Architecture, Aesthetics, Finance|
|Keywords:||Architecture, Art, Crowds, Finance, Literature, Technology|
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