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Career Stories

Belle Époque Novels of Professional Development

By Juliette M. Rogers

Publication Year: 2007

In Career Stories, Juliette Rogers considers a body of largely unexamined novels from the Belle Époque that defy the usual categories allowed the female protagonist of the period. While most literary studies of the Belle Époque (1880-1914) focus on the conventional housewife or harlot distinction for female protagonists, the heroines investigated in Career Stories are professional lawyers, doctors, teachers, writers, archeologists, and scientists.In addition to the one well-known woman writer from the Belle Époque, Colette, this study will expand our knowledge of relatively unknown authors, including Gabrielle Reval, Marcelle Tinayre, and Colette Yver, who actively participated in contemporary debates on women's possible roles in the public domain and in professional careers during this period. Career Stories seeks to understand early twentieth century France by examining novels written about professional women, bourgeois and working-class heroines, and the particular dilemmas that they faced. This book contributes a new facet to literary histories of the Belle Époque: a subgenre of the Bildungsroman that flourished briefly during the first decade of the twentieth century in France. Rogers terms this subgenre the female Berufsroman, or novel of women's professional development.Career Stories will change the way we think about the Belle Époque and the interwar period in French literary history, because these women writers and their novels changed the direction that fiction writing would take in post-World War I France.

Published by: Penn State University Press

Series: Penn State Romance Studies


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Title Page

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p. iii


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p. iv


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p. vii

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p. ix

Over the past ten years, I have benefited from the support of a number of institutions that gave me time off from teaching in order to work on this project. I am grateful for a Camargo Foundation fellowship in Cassis, France, which offered a beautiful setting for writing and reflection. The...

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pp. 1-13

this book will contribute a new facet to literary histories of the Belle Epoque, one that has not been explored previously: the fascinating subgenre of the bildungsroman that flourished briefly during the first decade of the twentieth century in France, and that I have labeled...

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1. Innovation and Education: Historical Contexts from the Belle Epoque

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pp. 15-41

The events of the Third Republic that would have the most significant impact on women’s lives, both immediately and on a long-term basis, were the creation of girls’ public secondary schools and women’s teacher training schools (les

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2. Literary Contexts: Bildungsroman, Erziehungsroman, and Berufsroman

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pp. 43-77

Women writers of the Belle Epoque who developed plots about the education and professional careers of modern women brought surprising innovations to a genre that had existed for some time in Europe. Although novels of professional or educational development may appear to...

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3. Dreams and Disappointments: Women’s Education Novels

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pp. 79-111

Less than twenty years after the French Republic passed a law requiring primary education for both boys and girls, the surprising Claudine

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4. Cervelines: Women Scientists in Novels of Professional Development

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pp. 113-147

On April 12, 1898, professor Gabriel Lippmann made a report to the Acad

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5. Ind

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pp. 149-173

Women writers who discussed Yver’s Princesses de science did not give it unanimous praise. The novelist and journalist Camille Marbo wrote a fairly severe critique of the work in her article “La Femme intellectuelle au foyer” (“The Intellectual Woman at Home”), published in the August...

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6. The Composite Novel: Women Lawyers in Les Dames du Palais

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pp. 175-201

The legal profession proved to be one of the least popular career choices with women of the Belle Epoque, and numbers of women in this field did not increase until well after World War I.1 Yet women were constantly in the courthouses of France, due to an increase in infamous women...

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7. After the War

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pp. 203-217

In this book I have concentrated on women writers from the first decade of the twentieth century because that is the time period when novels featuring women professionals first blossomed and enjoyed both critical and popular success. When World War I began, the tone and topic of women...


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pp. 219-221


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pp. 231-238


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pp. 239-249

E-ISBN-13: 9780271021225
E-ISBN-10: 0271021225
Print-ISBN-13: 9780271032689
Print-ISBN-10: 0271032685

Page Count: 260
Publication Year: 2007

Series Title: Penn State Romance Studies
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OCLC Number: 233649522
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Career Stories

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • French fiction -- Women authors -- History and criticism.
  • French fiction -- 20th century -- History and criticism.
  • French fiction -- 19th century -- History and criticism
  • Women and literature -- France -- History -- 20th century.
  • Women and literature -- France -- History -- 19th century.
  • Professions in literature.
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