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Gender and Revolution in Europe and Asia, Part 2: Recent Works and FrameworL· for Comparative Analysis Olwen Hufton, Women and the Limits of Citizenship in the French Revolution. The Donald G. Creighton Lectures, 1989. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1992. xxvi + 197 pp. ISBN 0-8020-6837-5 (pb); 0-80205898 -1 (cl); $40.00 (d); $18.95 (pb). Lynn Hunt, The Family Romance of the French Revolution. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992. xvi + 213 pp.; ill. ISBN 0-520-07741-5 (cl); $20.00. Barbara Jancar-Webster, Women and Revolution in Yugoslavia, 1941-1945. Denver: Arden Press, 1990. xvi + 245 pp. ISBN 0-912869-09-7 (cl); 0-912869-10-0 (pb); $26.50 (cl); $16.95 (pb). Li Yu-ning, ed., Chinese Women through Chinese Eyes. Armonk, New York: M.E. Sharpe, 1992. xxx + 251 pp. ISBN 0-87332-596-6 (cl); 0-87332-597-4 (pb); $39.95 (cl); $15.95 (pb). Margaret Maxwell, Narodniki Women: Russian Women Who Sacrificed Themselves for the Dream of Freedom. New York: Pergamon Press, 1990. xv + 341 pp. ISBN 0-08-036461-1 (cl); 0-08-036462-x (pb); $36.00 (cl); $14.50 (pb). Ono Kazuko, Chinese Women in a Century of Revolution, 1850-1950, English translation edited by Joshua A. Fogel. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1989. xxviii + 255 pp. ISBN 0-8047-1496-7 (cl); 0-8047-1497-5 (pb); $37.50 (cl); $12.95 (pb). Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom Louise Tilly begins a recent essay on trends in women's history by describing an incident in which a scholar presented a "dazzling interpretation of the polemical writing of Olympe de Gouges," only to have a "crusty old historian" in the audience ask, "Now that I know that women were partidpants in the Revolution, what difference does it make?" Tilly goes on to describe various ways that paying "attention to women" and to gendered political language "sharpens our understanding of power struggles in the revolutionary process."1 One might assume that essays such as Tilly's and the recent proliferation of major case studies that focus on the gendered dimensions of specific revolutions (described in Part 1 of this review, which appeared in the Winter 1993 issue of this journal) would be enough, in and of themselves, to predpitate a paradigm shift relating to gender within revolutionary studies. Such an assumption is too optimistic, © 1994 Journal of Women's History, Vol 6 No ι (Spring) UO Journal of Women's History Spring however, because the available case studies often approach gender from very different angles, and scholars rarely place their arguments within broadly comparative frameworks. In an effort to suggest specific ways in which the debate on revolutions might usefully be engendered, I return to the six books introduced in Part 1. The most sensible place to begin is with gender-sensitive biographical studies. Ever since the appearance in 1805 of a three-volume collection of life histories entitled TTie Female Revolutionary Plutarch, works devoted to the experiences of notable revolutionary and counter-revolutionary women have been a mainstay within both the popular and academic literature on the events of epochal years such as 1789.2 The most effective gender-sensitive biographical works enrich our understanding of individual revolutions in significant ways. Many present convindng evidence of the key contributions women have made to political transformations for which men were later given all thç credit.3 When taken as a whole, however, the biographical literature that now exists has important drawbacks for scholars interested in developing new general models for understanding revolutions. The very concern with individual motivations and experiences that makes the best biographies such compelling reading limits their value to theorists. In addition, the biographers who have shed the most light on the gendered dimensions of particular revolutions have, to date, tended to pay little attention to comparative issues. The two main biographical works under review here—Li Yu-ning's Chinese Women through Chinese Eyes (many of the chapters in which are translations of memoirs) and Margaret Maxwell's Narodniki Women—draw attention to both the strengths and weaknesses of the genre. Both works provide a wealth of fascinating detail concerning women who have tended either to...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-2036
Print ISSN
1042-7961
Pages
pp. 110-120
Launched on MUSE
2010-03-25
Open Access
No
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