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Gender and Sexuality at the Fin-de-siècle

Seminar questions

  • How successful was French feminism between 1871 and 1914?

  • What explains the emergence of the "new woman"?

  • Was there a crisis of French masculinity?

  • Was there a crisis in gender relations? If so, why?

Core reading:

  • K Offen 'Depopulation, nationalism and feminism in Fin-de-Siècle France' American Historical Review 89/3 (1984): 648-676

  • J Scott, Only Paradoxes to Offer (1996), introduction, chps. 4-5 (on Hubertine Auclert and Madeleine Pelletier respectively)

  • Be sure you have begun reading the novel by A Djebar, An Algerian Cavalcade.

Further reading:


  • J McMillan France and Women 1789-1914: Gender, Society and Politics (2000)

  • Gildea, Children of the Revolution (2008), chap 5 and 13

  • J McMillan Housewife or Harlot (1981)

  • Magraw, France: A Social History (2002), chap 9

  • G Duby/ MPerrot (eds) A History of Women in the West Vol 4 (1993)

  • C Forth and E Accampo (eds) Confronting Modernity in Fin-de-Siecle France (2009), esp chaps 1-2

  • K Offen, ‘French Women’s History: Retrospect (1789-1940) and Prospect,’ French Historical Studies 26 (2003), 727-67

On gender and history

  • J Scott Gender and the Politics of History (1986)

  • J Scott, ‘Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis,’ American Historical Review 91:5 (1986), 1053-1075

Feminism and protest

  • C Moses, French Feminism in the 19th-Century (1984)

  • J Scott, Only Paradoxes to Offer: French Feminism and the Rights of Man (1996)

  • C Moses and L Rabine, Feminism , Socialism and French Romanticism (1993)

  • S Grogan, French Socialism and Sexual Difference: Women and the New Society (1992)

  • F Gordon/ M Cross, Early French Feminisms 1830-1940 ( 1996)

  • T Gray/ M Cross, The Feminism of Flora Tristan (1992)

  • M Ozouf, Women’s Words: Essays on French Singularity (1997)

  • P Bidelman, Pariahs stand up! The Founding of the a liberal feminist movement in France 1858-1889 (1982)

  • F Gordon, The Integral Feminist: Madeleine Pelletier 1874-1939 (1990)

  • C Sowerine, 'Women's Brain, Man's Brain: Feminism and Anthropology in late Nineteenth-Century France,' Women's History Review 12:2 (2003), 311-29

  • A Kenny and S Hause, Women’s Suffrage and Social Politics in the French Third Republic (1984)

  • K Offen, 'Women, Citizenship and Suffrage with a French Twist 1789-1993' in C Daley/M Nolan (eds), Suffrage and Beyond (1994)

  • S Hause and A Kenney, ‘The Limits of Suffragist Behavior: Legalism and Militancy in France, 1876-1922,’ American Historical Review 86:4 (1981), 781-806

  • D Barry, Women and Political Insurgency: France in the Mid-Nineteenth Century (1996)

  • L Tilly, 'Women’s Collective Action in France 1870-1914,' in L &C Tilly (eds), Class Conflict and Collective Action (1981)

  • L Strumhinger, 'The Vésuviennes: Images of Women Warriors in 1848,' History of European Ideas (1987)

  • P Hilden Working Women and Socialist Politics in France 1880-1914 (1986)

  • P Hilden, 'Women and the Labour Movement in France 1869-1914,' Historical Journal (1986)

  • C Sowerwine Sisters or Citizens? Women and Socialism in France since 1876 (1982)

  • R Stuart, 'Whores and Angels: Women and the Family in the Discourse of French Marxists,' European History Quarterly (1997)

  • R Stuart, ‘Calm, with a Grave and Serious Temperament, rather Male’: French Marxism, Gender and Feminism 1882-1905,' International Review of Social History (1996)

Femininity, female lives and labour

  • E Berenson, The Trial of Madame Caillaux (1993)

  • J DeGroat, 'The public nature of women’s work: Debates during the Revolution of 1848,' French Historical Studies (1997)

  • M Boxer, 'Women in Industrial Homework: the Flowermakers of Paris in the Belle Epoque,' French Historical Studies (1983)

  • L Berlanstein, ‘Selling Modern Femininity: Femina, a Forgotten Feminist Publishing Success in Belle Epoque France,’ French Historical Studies 30 (2007) 623-49

  • M L Roberts, 'Acting Up: The Feminist Theatrics of Marguerite Durand,' French Historical Studies (1996)

  • M L Roberts, Disruptive Acts: The New Woman in Fin-de-Siecle France (2002)

  • A McLaren, Sexuality and social order:The debate over the fertility of women and workers in France, 1770-1920 (1983)

  • D Silverman, Art Nouveau in Fin-de-siecle Paris, chapter 4

  • L Berlanstein, Daughters of Eve: A Cultural History of French Theater Women from the Old Regime to the Fin de Siecle (2001)

  • A Mansker, ‘“Mademoiselle Arria Ly Wants Blood!” The Debate over Female Honor in Belle Epoque France,’ French Historical Studies, 29:4 (2006)

  • B L Smith, Ladies of the Leisure Class: the Bourgeoises of Northern France in the 19th-Century (1981)

  • E Accampo/ R Fuchs/ M Stewart (eds) Gender and the Politics of Social Reform in France 1870-1914 (1995)

  • P Tilburg, ‘Earning her bread,’ Métier, Order, and Female Honor in Colette’s Music Hall, 1906-13’ French Historical Studies 28 (2005)

  • J Allen Poignant Relations: Three Modern French Women (2000)

  • J. Harsin, ‘Gender, Class and Madness in Nineteenth-Century France, French Historical Studies 17:4 (1992), 1048-70

  • J Pedersen, ‘Regulating Abortion and Birth Control: Gender, Medicine and Republican Politics in France, 1870-1920,’ French Historical Studies 19:3 (1996), 673-98

  • J Harsin, ‘Syphilis, Wives and Physicians: Medical Ethics and the Family in Late-Nineteenth Century France,’

    French Historical Studies, 16:1 (1989)

  • Y Ripa, Women and Madness: the Incarceration of Women in 19th-century France (1990)

  • R Harris, Murders and Madness; Medicine , Law and Society in Fin-de-Siècle France (1989)

  • P O’Brien, 'The Kleptomania Diagnosis: Bourgeois Women and Theft,' Journal of Social History (1983)

  • R Harris ‘Melodrama , Hysteria and Feminine Crimes of Passion in the Fin-de-Siècle’, History Workshop Journal 25:1 (1988), 31-63


    • R Nye Masculinity and Male Codes of Honour in Modern France (1993)

    • R Nye, ‘Fencing, the Duel, and Republican Manhood in the Third Republic,’ Journal of Contemporary History 25:2-3 (1990)
    • C Forth and B Taithe (eds) French Masculinities (2007)

    • C Forth, The Dreyfus Affair and the Crisis of French Manhood (2004)

    • C Forth and E Accampo (eds) Confronting Modernity in Fin-de-Siecle France (2009), esp chaps 6-9.

    • J Surkis, Sexing the Citizen: Morality and Masculinity in France, 1870-1920 (2006)

    • C Harrison, The Bourgeois Citizen in 19th-Century France: Gender , Sociability and the Uses of Emulation (1998)

    • C Forth, ‘Adventure of the naked truth: The Dreyfus Affair and the female form,’ French Cultural Studies 12 (2001)

    • J F. Stone, 'The Republican Brotherhood: Gender and Ideology,' in E. A. Accampo, R. F. Fuchs, and M. L. Stewart (eds), Gender and the Politics of Social Reform in France, 1870-1914 (1995)

    • T Verhoeven, ‘Neither Male nor Female: The Jesuit as Androgyne, 1843-1870,’ Modern and Contemporary France 16:1 (2008)

    • S Gerson, ‘In praise of modest men: Self-display and self-effacement in nineteenth-century France,’ French History, 20:2 (2006)

    • Mark S. Micale, 'Charcot and the Idea of Hysteria in the Male: Gender, Mental Science, and Medical Diagnosis in Late Nineteenth-Century France,' Medical History 34 (1990), 363-411

    • J Goldstein, ‘The Use of Male Hysteria: Medical and Literary Discourse in Nineteenth-Century France,’ Representations 34 (1991)

    • R Nye, ‘Neurasthenia and the Culture of Sport in Belle Epoque France,’ Journal of Contemporary History 17:1 (1982), 51-68


    • R Nye, ‘Honor, Impotence and Male Sexuality in Nineteenth-Century French Medicine,’ French Historical Studies 16:1 (1989), 48-71

    • R Mesch, ‘Housewife or Harlot? Sex and the Married Woman in Nineteenth-Century France,’ Journal of the History of Sexuality 18:1 (2009) 65-83

    • L Choquette ‘Homosexuals in the City: Representations of Lesbian and Gay Space in Nineteenth-Century Paris’ Journal of Homosexuality 41:3 (2002), 149-67

    • A Copley Sexual Moralities in France, 1780-1980: New Ideas on the Family, Divorce and Homosexuality (1989)

    • A McLaren, 'Abortion in France: Women and the Regulation of Family Size, 1800-1914,' French Historical Studies 10/3 (1978), 461-485

    • J Merrick/ B Ragan (eds) Homosexuality in Modern France (2001)

    • A Corbin Women for Hire: Prostitution and Sexuality in France after 1850 (1990)

    • J Harsin Policing Prostitution in 19th-Century Paris (1985)

    • L Choquette ‘Degenerate or degendered?: Images of Prostitution and Homosexuality in the Third Republic’ Historical Reflections/ Réflexions historiques 23 (1997) 205-28

    • J Coffin, 'Artisans of the Sidewalk,' Radical History Review (1982)

    • C Bernheimer, Figures of Ill-Repute: Representing Prostitution in 19th-Century France (1997)

    • S Dijkstra, Idols of Perversity : Fantasies of Feminine Evil in Fin-de-Siècle France (1986)

    • M Plott, ‘The Rules of the Game: Respectability, Sexuality and the Femme Mondaine in Late-Nineteenth-Century Paris,’ French Historical Studies 25 (2002) 531-56

    • E Menon, ‘Images of Pleasure and Vice: Women of the Fringe’ in G Weisberg (ed) Montmartre and the Making of Mass Culture (2001)

    • L Felter Kerley, ‘The Art of Posing Nude: Models, Moralists and the 1893 Bal des Quat’z-Arts,' French Historical Studies 33:1 (2010), 69-97

    • R Nye ‘Sexuality, Sexual Difference and the Cult of Modern Love in the Third Republic,’ Historical Reflections/ Réflexions historiques 20 (1994)

    • W A Peniston, ‘Pederasts, Prostitutes, and Pickpockets in Paris of the 1870s,’ Journal of Homosexuality 41:3 (2002), 169-87

    • W Peniston, Pederasts and Others: Urban Culture and Sexual Identity in Nineteenth-Century Paris (2004)

    • William A. Peniston and Nancy Erber (eds), Queer Lives: Men's Autobiographies from Nineteenth-Century France

    • M Sibalis, ‘The Palais-Royal and the Homosexual Subculture of Nineteenth-Century Paris,' Journal of Homosexuality 41:3 (2002), 117-29

    • J Jackson, Living in Arcadia (2009), chap 1

    • C Heywood ‘Innocence and experience: sexuality among young people in modern France, c.1750-1950’ French History, 21(1) (2007), 44-64

    • A McLaren, 'Some Secular Attitudes toward Sexual Behavior in France 1760-1860,’ French Historiical Studies, 8:4 (1974)

    • A McLaren, Trials of Masculinity: Policing Sexual Boundaries, 1870-1930 (1997)