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In the Shadow of the Guillotine and in the Margins of History: English-Speaking Authors View Women in the French Revolution

From: Journal of Women's History
Volume 1, Number 3, Winter 1990
pp. 244-260 | 10.1353/jowh.2010.0075

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Susan P. Conner  

Susan Punzel Conner is Associate Professor of History at Central Michigan University. She has published numerous chapters and articles on French women. Her most recent publication is "Politics, Prostitution and the Pox in Revolutionary Paris, 1789-1799," Journal of Social History 22, no. 4 (June 1989).

Notes

1. Simon Schama, Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution (New York: Knopf, 1989), 17.

2. Among the particularly good special issues were Eighteenth Century Studies edited by Lynn Hunt 22, no. 3, (Spring 1989), The French Review 62, no. 6 (May 1989), Journal of Modern History 60, supplement (September 1988), Culture et Révolution: Cultural Ramifications of the French Revolution, ed. George Levitine from a conference at the University of Maryland (Fall 1989), and the special issue of the History of European Ideas devoted to Women in the French Revolution.

3. The Consortium on Revolutionary Europe traditionally gathers historians of political and military history and foreign policy (1750-1850). At the meeting in Tallahassee in September 1989, nine of the 112 papers proposed dealt with women. This was the highest number ever for one of the meetings.

4. Olwen Hufton, "Women in Revolution, 1789-1796," Past and Present 43 (1971): 90-108; Joan Landes, Women and the Public Sphere in the Age of the French Revolution (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1988); Darline Levy, Harriet Applewhite, and Mary Johnson, Women in Revolutionary Paris, 1789-1795 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1979). Other English-language articles on women during the French Revolution include Jane Abray, "Feminism and the French Revolution," American Historical Review 80, no. 1 (February 1975): 43-63; Susan Conner, "Prostitution and the Jacobin Agenda for Social Control," Eighteenth Century Life 12, no. 1 (February 1988): 42-51; Margaret Darrow, "French Noblewomen and the New Domesticity, 1750-1850," Feminist Studies 5, no. 1 (Spring 1979): 41-65; Margaret George, "The 'World Historical Defeat' of the Républicaines-Révolutionnaires," Science and Society 40, no. 4 (Winter 1976-77): 410-37; Ruth Graham, "Rousseau's Sexism Revolutionized," in Women in the 18th Century and Other Essays, ed. Paul Fritz and Richard Morton (Toronto: Hakkert, 1976); Jennifer Harris, "The Red Cap of Liberty: A Study of Dress Worn by Revolutionary Partisans, 1789-1794," Eighteenth-Century Studies 14, no. 3 (Spring 1981): 283-312; Mary Durham Johnson, "Old Wine in New Bottles: The Institutional Changes for Women of the People during the French Revolution," in Women, War and Revolution (previously cited); Scott Lyttle, "The Second Sex," Journal of Modern History 26 (1955): 14-26; Barbara Corrado Pope, "Revolution and Retreat: Upper-Class French Women after 1789," in Women, War and Revolution, ed. Carol R. Berkin and Clara Lovett (New York: Holmes & Meier, 1980); Sian Reynolds, "Marianne's Citizens? Women, the Republic and Universal Suffrage in France," in Women, State and Revolution: Essays on Power and Gender in Europe since 1789, ed. Sian Reynolds (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1987); L. C. Rosenfield, "The Rights of Women in the French Revolution," Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture 7 (1987): 117-137; additional articles by Applewhite and Levy on women and political activism are included in French Women and the Age of Enlightenment, ed. Samia Spencer (Urbana, University of Illinois Press, 1984) and Women and the Structure of Society: Selected Research from the Fifth Berkshire Conference on the History of Women, ed. Barbara Harris and JoAnn McNamara (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1984).

5. Lynn Hunt, Politics, Culture and Class in the French Revolution (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984), 104.

6. Landes, Women and the Public Sphere, 10. In her introduction, Landes warns the reader that Women and the Public Sphere is "intended neither as a historical monograph nor as a feminist rereading of the political tradition" (8). Rather, she states that she is attempting to show the "fluid interaction" of history and theory, theory and symbolic representation, symbolic representation and action (9). As in interpretive essay, it is extremely thought-provoking. Hopefully, it will not be dismissed by American historians of the revolutionary era because of its unfortunate flaws: a ponderous style, complex and obscure language, and the assumption of an orthodox marxist framework for the revolution, which most historians believe has...