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The Career and Work of Madelyn Gutwirth / 9 A result of her labor, the Society for Staël and Coppet Group Studies (USA) was founded and given status as a new affiliated group at the annual ASECS meeting in New Orleans in 2001. Its new name, "Germaine de Staël Society for Revolutionary and Romantic Studies," reflects the group's intention of welcoming more researchers whose scholarly work crosses the boundaries between academic disciplines. With its own publication channels in the future, it will be the most appropriate forum for the demonstration of our different feminist and internationalist tendencies surveyed so well by Gutwirth. It will also provide a forum for the polemics and controversies in which Madelyn Gutwirth excels. She stands ready to reprimand those who, ignoring the last two decades of research, still try to judge Germaine de Staël according to the long-held attitudes of the past. Like her European counter-part, Simone Balayé, whose "generosity was demanding and friendship jealous" toward those who could not understand Staël, Madelyn Gutwirth does not easily forgive reactionary attacks against her exegete.15 In these matters, Madelyn's generosity changes to the aggression of the Racinian Phedra, as we witness it in her article "Taking Corinne Seriously" published in Signs in reply to Ellen Moers' mocking attitude toward Staël. More recently, P. N. Furbank's "Call Me Madam," an openly misogynous review of Staël's first novel, Delphine, provoked Gutwirth's passionate rebuke in The New York Review ofBooL·.16 Indeed, without Madelyn Gutwirth's exceptional impact and enthusiastic involvement, the field of Staël studies would be lacking vitality and excitement. MADELYN GUTWIRTH, HISTORIAN SARAHMAZA My title alludes both to Madelyn Gutwirth's celebrated book on Germaine de Staël, and to my desire to claim at least part of Gutwirth and her work for my own discipline. I first encountered Gutwirth's work in the mid 1980s, when I was casting around to write a commissioned paper on women in Napoleonic France—a subject on which the bibliography was then pretty much non-existent. I happened upon Gutwirth's Madame de Staël, Novelist and read it in one sitting: not only was it a life-saver for what I was writing, it also suggested illuminating ways in which literary biography could connect with socio-political history. Long before questions about gender and the construction of nationhood, about the role of female allegories in political culture had become central issues for historians, Gutwirth placed such matter at the center of her study of the life and writing of a cosmopolitan and intensely 10 / MAZA political woman. In so far as such distinctions make any sense at all, Gutwirth is as much a historian as a literary critic. Part of my fascination with Gutwirth's Staël book came from the fact that I knew little about its protagonist, and discovered her in Gutwirth's pages. Madame de Staël was not the bluestocking harlot I had encountered in the dismissive allusions of other (mostly male) scholars.17 But she was not the girl next door either, and Gutwirth did not try to make her that. Germaine was certainly smart, bold, and creative, but also in many ways an insecure, selfabsorbed and self-dramatizing diva. (I have encountered a number of Germaines in academia, and was relieved when I finally met Madelyn to discover that she was emphatically not one of them). The author's fine balance of empathy and distance was one of the things that drew me into the book in the first place. But the book also opened up themes which uncannily anticipated much of the gender and cultural history of the following decades. Some of the book's motifs partook of classic 1970s feminism: this was the story of a woman who wrote at a time when women's words were considered too insubstantial to consign to paper, and upper-class women in France were supposed to speak wit rather than substance. Madelyn's account of Germaine's account of Corinne—a cascade of women "creating" one another—sounded post-sixties themes about the silencing of women and the need to...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1938-6133
Print ISSN
0360-2370
Pages
pp. 9-12
Launched on MUSE
2010-06-24
Open Access
No
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