Abstract

Abstract:

This study uses paternity suits in early eighteenth-century France to reconstruct youth sexual culture. The essay reads the sources in ways that center the narratives of the youth themselves within a broader context of peers, parents, guardians, and other established adults. The evidence provides information about the timeline and signs that represented the development of sexual relationships, as well as the range of spaces in which these occurred. The investigation allows historians to better understand and map the sexual and behavioral patterns of preindustrial French youth while also offering a reconsideration of constructions of sexual relationships and the weight of parental authority in the decades before the better-known demographic expansion of the latter eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

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