In contrast, it is interesting to remark that in France, one of the passages that is most frequently chosen for anthologies is the end of the novel. Her final conversation with Nemours is offered as an example of the triumph of duty over love. The princess is a model of marital fidelity: she remains faithful to the memory of her husband because she feels guilty of his death. When female influence is restored to the seventeenth-century literary scene, new, provocative interpretations are possible. For example, it becomes possible to argue that Lafayette uses the novel as a social tool in order to advance an alternative notion of vraisemblance.
The study of women writers and our interdisciplinary approach to the period have changed the way we see the seventeenth century as a whole. Women are often considered as an integral part of the cultural and literary life of le grand siecle , as in my own work in which I focus on the salons and their influence on the seventeenth century as a whole.
Nancy K Miller articulates this approach when she remarks that it is no longer sufficient to resurrect women writers in order to construct a parallel narrative to the dominant history. Such a history is obviously easier to accept because it leaves traditional history and traditional readings of literary texts intact. In my own work, I have been tracing how the salons were inscribed into history and into literary history, questions that led me to question how collective memory came to be constituted over the years. For many of us in the United States, seventeenth-century French women are no longer shadows.
We do not have the cultural baggage of our French colleagues. But we also run the risk of not being taken seriously or of being misunderstood or even rejected altogether because what we are offering is often a new concept of a canonical period that is fundamental to any conception of French cultural identity.
In a recent article, Michelle Perrot discusses, in the context of historical studies, both the influence of adding women to the picture, and the fundamental changes this necessitates. American feminism, frequently in a caricatured form, is too often used as a foil with which to parry the critical reflection taking place within feminist studies.
The stakes are all the higher since history…continues to be a prestigious discipline which is linked to the national culture and to politics and which, therefore, is masculine, especially when it comes to contemporary history. To write the history of women complicates all questions, but also creates new forms of knowledge. Obviously feminist and interdisciplinary studies lead to a reevaluation of classical France, and consequently to a vision of the  period that is often foreign, or worse, irrelevant and threatening to a French public and even to our colleagues.
Is this irresponsible teaching, to return to Milo? But it seems to me that the real fear is not that American professors teach the wrong texts, but that they teach the wrong France, or to be less dramatic, that they create an image of France that differs from that of the French themselves. It is true that the seventeenth century that is taught in American universities is perhaps not precisely the same as the reigning vision of classical France in the hexagon. It can be argued that this has allowed the very survival of our classes in the United States.
Should this alternative view be rejected or combated? Little by little, more French researchers are being drawn to women writers, scholars such as Myriam Maitre, Nathalie Grande, and Delphine Denis.
"For the salvation of my soul": women and wills in medieval and early modern France
Request a Review or Inspection Copy. Women have long been crucial to the provision of medical services, both in the treatment of sickness and in maintaining health. In this study, Susan Broomhall situates the practices and perceptions of women's medical work in France in the context of the sixteenth century and its medical evolution and innovations. She argues that early modern understandings of medical practice and authority were highly flexible and subject to change. She furthermore examines how a focus on female practitioners, who cut across most sectors of early modern medical practice, can reveal the multifaceted phenomenon of these negotiations for authority.
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This new paperback edition of Women's medical work in early modern France skilfully combines detailed research with a clear presentation of the existing literature of women's medical work, making it invaluable to students of gender and medical history. She is able to put together a coherent and impressive picture of women in health care, women functioning and writing about it for both male and female readerships.
Acknowledgements Notes on text Introduction 1. Women and the medical guilds 2. The university: women and the Faculty of Medicine in Paris 3. Natalie Zemon Davis, for example, showed how women as well as men shaped legal narratives to serve their own purposes and how women could even make advantageous use of their alleged inferiority. But others have developed a more dynamic and fluid vision of culture as a space for elite-popular interaction, appropriation, and reinterpretation. This work is focused more on individuals and communities than on families, but it has helped us understand the family as a flexible social and legal institution in local and larger contexts.
Historians no longer confuse prescriptive statements about the rule of men, law, and king with daily experience throughout the kingdom.
Early Modern French Women Writers – TEI: Text Encoding Initiative
They see state-building as an ongoing process involving not only centralization and contestation but also negotiation, cooptation, and cooperation. Using the new concept of political culture—understood as a system of discourses, symbols, images, rituals, and practices that produce power relations as well as categories of thought and patterns of action—historians have located politics not only in officially political structures and operations but in many other sites as well, such as the workshop, festival, theater, convent, and, of course, family.
Sarah Maza, for example, has argued that widely publicized lawsuits about domestic scandals at the end of the Old Regime influenced public attitudes toward the aristocracy and monarchy. Building on these approaches to law, gender, and politics, the essays in this collection shed new light on the early modern French family. The authors share an emphasis on the malleability of families, which were not given but made, unmade, and remade, not static and closed but flexible and permeable, changeable through individual choices, collective decisions, and outside influences.
Without ignoring older questions about kinship systems and property arrangements, this volume focuses on family members as gendered individuals, engaged in negotiations between the sexes, lineages, and generations, all with complicated agendas and strategies of their own. For personal or pragmatic reasons, in concert or conflict with their relatives and communities, men and women used contractual and judicial procedures to constitute and reconfigure families through marriage, separation, guardianship, and legitimation.
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In the process, they exercised agency within traditional structures and engaged a variety of larger forces at work in early modern France, such as state building, evolving notions about femininity and masculinity, and the economic takeoff of the eighteenth century. This collection analyzes traditional and innovative family-making in dialogue with those larger forces. How, for example, did family members accept and resist absolutist visions of social order and attempts to enforce new royal legislation?
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How did the sexual and moral standards of the Catholic Reformation, the consumer revolution, or the political culture of the late Old Regime inform domestic practices and intimate relations? Early modern clergymen, magistrates, and ordinary subjects all regarded the institution of marriage as the bedrock of social, legal, and political order. Within marriage, wives and husbands formed an economic alliance to support themselves and their children, forged emotional bonds, negotiated sexual desire and duty, and determined the meaning of gender in daily practice.
The absolutist family model envisioned the household as a small kingdom and the kingdom as a large household, with prerogatives and responsibilities vested in the hands of the sovereign husband-father-master and the paternal monarch.
Given its centrality in private and public life, all of the essays in this volume, directly or indirectly, are about marriage, viewed from multiple perspectives. To provide background for the other contributions, Suzanne Desan offers an overview of marriage as a social and legal practice. She asks how couples negotiated their initial marriages, managed property, sought companionship, and, in some cases, dealt with extensive conflict and legal separation. In the next two essays, Dena Goodman and Clare Crowston examine courtship and decisions about marriage, the economic power of wives, and controversies about social order and disorder in the late Old Regime.
Despite the idealization of matrimony as a source of stability and force of unity, some marriages inevitably broke down. In their essays on marital separations, Julie Hardwick and Jeffrey Merrick probe popular assumptions about gender and sexuality within marriage and analyze the relations between marriage and community, state, and politics. In the last two essays, Christopher Corley and Matthew Gerber explore other familial relationships shaped by marriage: the appointment of guardians for children after the death of a parent and the attempts of parents to legitimize children born out of wedlock.
Using letters between spouses, Dena Goodman takes a close look at the courtship and marriages of two propertied couples. Bernard de Bonnard and Sophie Sylvestre scarcely knew each other and married for financial reasons, but they built a loving, intimate relationship. In contrast, Manon Phlipon and Jean-Marie Roland never succeeded in developing a happy, companionate marriage, even though they had freely chosen one another out of mutual regard and had worked hard to gain the consent of their families.
By shifting emphasis from how marriage was contracted to how it was experienced, Goodman illustrates that conjugal happiness within the emerging Rousseauist model depended above all on how the husband exercised power and on whether his wife accepted the legitimacy and nature of that power.
Clare Crowston approaches these intersections of gender, power, and property from another angle. By studying lawsuits over debts incurred by clients of the prominent fashion merchant Rose Bertin, she demonstrates that wives had much greater ability to spend money and accrue debt than one might think. In examining cultural reactions to these practices, Crowston acknowledges that costly clothes and mounting debts made moralists uneasy, but she eschews the expected plot line in which female expenditures prompted a misogynist crackdown on female prerogatives.
When Madame de Genlis admonished wives to curb spending, for example, she not only dispensed moral advice but also offered hints about maintaining power within marriage. Wise wives managed debt well.
The Dynamics of Gender in Early Modern France: Women Writ, Women Writing
The family model assigned husbands and wives gendered roles that embodied cultural expectations about hierarchy and stability, but it did not legitimize unlimited male despotism and could not prevent disruptive family conflicts. Taking into account the links between private lives and public order, Julie Hardwick and Jeffrey Merrick show how marital separation suits raised questions about the origins, nature, and limits of authority.
In seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century Nantes, legal process allowed the local population to define and enforce standards of male and female conduct. By examining the role of witnesses in separation suits, Julie Hardwick demonstrates that individuals, families, and communities reviewed and revised legal and cultural prescriptions at the grassroots level. For evidence about domestic dissension, magistrates invariably turned to relatives, neighbors, friends, servants, and co-workers, who interpreted abstract norms and articulated collective views of appropriate behavior within marriage.
In studying their depositions, Hardwick found some attitudes at odds with common assumptions about early modern society. On the contrary, they expressed disapproval of undisciplined or adulterous male sexuality more often than they focused on female sexual disorder.