International Journal of

Arts , Humanities & Social Science

ISSN 2693-2547 (Print) , ISSN 2693-2555 (Online)
Visuality in Pre-revolutionary Paris: Examining Louis Sebastien Mercier’s Tableau de Paris


This article aspires to survey the way in which Louis Sebastien Mercier used description in Tableau de Paris to make commentary on social theatre. A close reading of visuality, the gaze, and the representation of spectacle, warrants a renewed understanding in the ways in which Mercier’s rhetoric uses visuality as a tool of pedagogy, a method of constructing personhood and citizenship. This tool helped Mercier bring to bear the issues of social inequality, class division, economic hardship, and class conflict that underpinned pre-revolutionary tensions. Examining the work through this unique lens helps us contextualize his philosophy with that of his contemporaries and understand the emerging public sphere where individuals interacted with all forms of spectacle, from theatre to public appearance.