Cherchez la Femme: New Books on Women and Gender in France
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Cherchez la Femme: New Books on Women and Gender in France Anne T. Quartararo. Women Teachers and Popular Education in NineteenthCentury France: Social Values and Corporate Identity at the Normal School Institution. Newark, Del.: University of Delaware Press, 1995.232 pp.; ill. ISBN 0-87413-545-1 (cl). Shamir Gemie. Women and Schooling in France, 1815-1914: Gender, Authority and Identity in the Female Schooling Sector. Keele, England: Keele University Press, 1995. 256 pp. ISBN 1-85331-151-0 (cl). Elinor A. Accampo, Rachel G. Fuchs, and Mary Lynn Stewart, eds. Gender and the Politics of Social Reform in France, 1870-1914. Baltimore, Md.: Jolins Hopkins University Press, 1995. 272 pp. ISBN 0-8018-5060-6 (cl); 0-08018-5061-1 (pb). Mary Louise Roberts. Civilization without Sexes: Reconstructing Gender in Postwar France, 1917-1927. Chicago, IU.: University of Chicago Press, 1994. 337 pp.; ill. ISBN 0-226-72121-3 (cl); 0-226-72122-1 (pb). Barbara Corrado Pope How to write women's history? Or should we try, since conceptions . of gender, which always signify something beyond themselves, are always changing? I probably speak for most when I say we need it all, let the method fit the subject, and let's continue to learn about what women did and what shaped their lives in the past. The four books under review each takes a different and fruitful approach to how to write about women. The first two are explicitly women's history, covering a limited but important topic: the history of the teaching profession. Anne Quartararo highlights her points in a comparative way, by indicating the parallel history of male teaching; Shamir Gemie endeavors to recover women's voices, which glimmer through his more theoretical approach. In the book on welfare edited by Elinor Accampo we find that applying the category of gender, and a mostly male consensus about its meaning, is a must for understanding how the welfare state came about. Finally, Mary Louise Roberts studies gender itself, as a series of symbols which helps to explain how a people came to terms with a new and frightening world. Each of these books adds to our knowledge of the history of women and men in France. Women Teachers and Popular Education in Nineteenth-Century France is © 1997 Journal of Women's History, Vol. 9 No. 2 (Summer) 1997 Review Essay: Barbara Corrado Pope 175 a monograph in the very best sense of the word. The reader who sets out to learn about the development of primary education, teacher training, and lay women's entry into the state bureaucracy will be well served by this clearly written and well-researched book. Quartararo not only thoroughly explores the primary and secondary materials on French education, she also makes extensive use of the national and selected departmental archives, with charts and documents derived from these sources throughout the book. Many of these illustrate her comparative approach, for Quartararo continually refers to the male lay experiences in order to contextualize the growth in the lay female sector. To a lesser extent, she also calibrates the development of lay female teaching to the growth and decline of female religious teaching orders. The book opens with a chapter on the origins of teacher training in the Revolution and closes with the experiences of women teachers on the eve of the First World War. The revolutionaries wanted very much to create a literate and responsible citizenry. Charles-Maurice Talleyrand and the Marquis de Condorcet, the leading thinkers of this movement, even foresaw the need to educate girls and women into the new regime. Unfortunately, only men became part of the short-lived teacher-training •project put into effect in 1795. Although Napoleon Bonaparte instituted the Université to oversee the secondary and higher education of the nation's (male) elite, he paid scant attention to primary education for the lower classes. It was the Guizot Law of 1833 that mandated primary schools for boys and ordered France's fifty departments to found normal schools for training male teachers. As Quartararo points out, these institutions were not meant to oppose Church teaching. Indeed religion and moral training remained as important as instruction in basic skills until...


pdf