BRILLER SUR SCÈNE : L'ASTRONOMIE DANS LE THÉÂTRE DU GRAND SIÈCLE
Campangne, Hervé Thomas
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January 5th, 1634, the news of Galileo's condemnation by the Roman Catholic Church for his heretical belief in heliocentric theories -theories that postulate that the Earth orbits the Sun- reach France. As the professors of the Sorbonne condemn Galileo, as René Descartes, ever-cautious, chooses to forgo publishing his Treatise on the World, an ever increasing number of French writers turn to fiction to prove, attack, or simply present astronomical and cosmological theories to their audience. While much has been written about the new astronomy's relationship to poetry, proto-science fiction and vulgarization through novelization of scientific knowledge, its presence on the French stage, in comedies and ballets, has been mostly ignored by the scholarship. This thesis constructs a timeline of "natural philosophy theatre", tracking the movement of the sun and the earth and the representation of the theories elaborated by Copernicus, Tycho Brahé and Descartes through plays and ballets published in the 17th century and beyond, in order to analyze the function of laughter in the context of the scientific revolution. The following questions will be answered: How is the new astronomy presented on stage, both in comedies and ballets? What role does laughter play in the representation of science? Is it simply used to challenge the audience's beliefs? Is dance's only purpose to mimic the orbits of the planets, or does it hold a deeper meaning? What, if any, is the greater purpose of including scientific knowledge in theater?