Jules De Doncker
Jules De Doncker holds Master degrees in ‘English and German Literature’ and ‘Comparative Literature’ from Ghent University and is currently working on a PhD project that is funded by the FWO and led by Elizabeth Amann (Ghent University) and Christine Kanz (Ghent University / Universität Marburg). His thesis examines a number of French, English, Dutch and German collections of causes célèbres that were published over the course of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Following the successful publication of the first instalment of François Gayot de Pitaval’s twenty-two volume Causes célèbres et intéressantes in 1734, the cause célèbre, i.e. the collecting and editing of series of famous and remarkable legal and crime cases, became an immensely popular genre throughout Europe. Throughout the second half of the eighteenth and the nineteenth century a considerable number of editors published their own translations and adaptation of Gayot de Pitaval’s work. The thesis consists of a number of case studies that compare and contrast different versions of the five most important, i.e. most rewritten and reprinted, causes célèbres: the Marchioness of Brinvillier, Martin Guerre, Urbain Grandier, the Sieur d’Anglade and the Marchioness of Gange. More specifically, it aims at tracing the development of these cases, which are conceived as figures of memory (‘Erinnerungsfiguren’) and demonstrating how subsequent editors kept their (cultural) memory alive, by both rewriting these causes célèbres and reinterpreting their social significance.