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Legislating the French Family: Feminism, Theater, and Republican Politics: 1870-1920 [Kindle Edition]

Jean Elisabeth Pedersen
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Book Description

Legislating the French Family examines family law reform in France from the foundation of the Third Republic in 1870 to the aftermath of World War I in 1920. Combining literary and historical approaches, Jean Elisabeth Pedersen provides a unique perspective on the political culture of modern France, analyzing French "problem" plays and their reception both as a measure of public opinion and as a force for social change. This approach reveals the complex cultural narratives within, against, and in spite of what the feminist activists, journalists, medical experts, and politicians debated. Pedersen's work demonstrates how republican political debates over divorce, illegitimacy, abortion, and birth control both provoked and responded to larger arguments about the meanings of French citizenship, national identity, and imperial expansion. She argues that these debates complicated the idea of French citizenship and exposed the myth of the supposedly ungendered individual citizen.
This new approach to the study of political culture and social reform during the period reveals the intricate intersections among family law, class, religious belief, republican citizenship, national identity, and imperial policy.

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jean Elisabeth Pedersen is an associate professor of history at the Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester.

Product Details

  • File Size: 3802 KB
  • Print Length: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press (July 8, 2003)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000RMS0BC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,043,685 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
What makes books like Legislating the French Family so interesting are in how they broaden our perspectives on history. In the book, Pedersen theorizes that family policy debates were closely tied to debates about French national identity. In some ways, this is similar to today's continued debates about the state and its role toward the family. While we have much more to accomplish egalitarianism even today, it was refreshing to remind me how far we've come

While it is an academic text, I found that Pedersen's examination of family legislation--laws on divorce, paternity suits, and reproductive rights--broadened my understanding of 19th century developments of French egalitarianism. Pedersen does this by examining 19th century French laws through the combined lenses of theatre, feminist activism, and parliamentary contests to argue that her analysis of particularly "controversial" plays and their reception brings into relief the "broad cultural narratives." I'd say that similar public arenas exist today and many similar egalitarian issues are still debated.
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