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humanities 205 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 thought comes to a wide variety of differing conclusions, as indeed do all other avenues of approach. The one point of general agreement over Rousseau has always been his capacity to stimulate vigorous debate. What are Rousseau=s views on the differences between men and women? Are these differences biologically determined, hence natural, or are the identities of all men, women, and citizens an unstable social construction in which the difference is merely one of assigned roles and functions? Not only do opinions on this question differ, but some commentators believe that Rousseau=s views on the matter are self-contradictory, while others believe that his views are consistent, and still others believe that he presents an argument that is deliberately ambiguous. Given the diversity of views on this fundamental question, it follows inevitably that the analyses of all the subsequent issues deriving from it differ in many ways. Rousseau=s confinement of female power to the private sphere of the family, while male power operates in the public sphere of civic life, is variously interpreted as the mere repetition of ancient phallocratic discourses associated with male hysteria, or as a balancing of roles that allows masculine and feminine powers, operating in different spheres, to supplement and maintain each other, or as a radically new view of the political importance of domestic life. Several scholars refer to the ultimate fate of both Sophie and Julie as evidence either of Rousseau=s awareness that his theories could not work in practice or of his own serious doubts about the human cost of his ideal community. Whether Rousseau is seen as a phallocratic tyrant, a proto-feminist philosopher, or situated somewhere between the two, the fifteen essays collected in this volume demonstrate not only the richness and diversity of his thought, but also the exciting debates which his writings continue to inspire in the twenty-first century. (JO-ANN MCEACHERN) Kenneth J. Banks. Chasing Empire across the Sea: Communications and the State in the French Atlantic, 1713B1763 McGill-Queen=s University Press. xxii, 320. $65.00 This is very much a book inspired by communications theory and at the same time, very much a historian=s book, written with a relish for concrete details about people and events. The eighteenth century French Empire as here portrayed puts one in mind of a strong signal beamed from a central point, but weakening quite abruptly at the edge of its coverage, its message becoming lost in >noise,= shut out by other signals bearing competing messages. The metaphor is anachronistic, but then the Ancien Régime was a stranger to communications theory too. Kenneth J. Banks tells us that the message that the old monarchy wished to convey was both unified and all-encompassing and so sometimes ill fitted to global diversity. It was the message of a single authority (the 206 letters in canada 2002 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 French bureaucratic monarchy) conveyed in a single language (French to the exclusion of regional competitors), and supported by a single religion (the Gallican Church, as intolerant of ultramontane tendencies as of Protestantism ), a single legal framework (the Code Noir and the Coutume de Paris, banishing other codes such as that of Normandy), and a single economic system (state-focused mercantilism). Its single rationale was that colonies existed only for the benefit of the mother country and the best judge of benefit was the state. French business beamed out its own message, and the claims of colonials were at times at odds with both these signals. Whose message prevailed in a given time, place, or situation depended upon who commanded the means of communication. Certainly, the monarchy=s message did not always prevail at the periphery. For example, while the single entry-way to Canada, the St Lawrence, gave the state considerable control over Canada=s connection with the Atlantic, the interior beyond Montreal was difficult to police. Geography was only part of the problem. An equally important part was that the royal message was conveyed by what Banks calls >Authority=s Fragmented Voice.= Local authorities...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 205-207
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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