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Women and the Public Sphere in the Age of the French Revolution Paperback – August 4, 1988

ISBN-13: 978-0801494819 ISBN-10: 0801494818

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press (August 4, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801494818
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801494819
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #770,542 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Landes explores from the critical perspective of feminist political theory the historical evolution of 'the public sphere'—its definition as male space and the exclusion of women from it."—Women's Review of Books

"Filled with stunning hypotheses and brilliant insights."—Choice

"In this intelligent and readable book, Joan Landes argues that women's exclusion from the modern public sphere is neither accidental nor incidental but a central feature of its incarnation."—Journal of Modern History

"It is in reading Joan Landes's Women and the Public Sphere that we can best see the power and problematic character of democratic thinking as Tocqueville understood it . . . .Both female domesticity and modern feminism, as well as the difficulties that attend each, originated in liberal republicanism."—The Review of Politics

"Should become part of the increasingly varied repertoire available to everyone interested in the formation of the discourse of modern politics as well as specifically feminist issues."—Eighteenth-Century Studies

"Joan B. Landes's theoretical analysis of the public sphere organizes a wide spectrum of events and texts in order to examine, from a feminist viewpoint, the passage from absolutism to bourgeois society during the period between 1750 and 1850. Responding especially to the work of Habermas, Landes investigates the way in which the emerging bourgeois public sphere was constituted to exclude women."—The French Review

"Compelling and thought-provoking. . . . Ranging across several disciplines and the critical historical divide of the French Revolution, it gives us women's voices, classical political thory, and an analysis of political culture all at the same time. Landes has opened an exciting path in the study of gender and politics."—Lynn Hunt, University of Pennsylvania

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By D. C. McMurtry on November 10, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is an outstanding scholarly work by a well-respected scholar of Old Regime France and the role of women in history. To criticize her work because her definition is loosely based on a term which refers to an often nebulous group or phenomenon that is historically impossible to nail down is cheap. As to any criticism of her methodological sloppiness (here in using modern films to exemplify points she makes in her book and draw the reader into the story in an engaging fashion or to show the longevity of historical memory), you ought first to be clear in your examples and then to justify your criticisms for the reader. Your "critical" review is much sloppier and gives little information besides your negative opinion.

One of the purpose of this book is to explore the power of rhetoric and the (lack of) influence women were able to exert in pre-Revolutionary and Revolutionary France. Landes has been criticized for a weak sense of coherency in the way she deals with her text and a lack of hard evidence to back up her claim that the dominant ideology of "equality, liberty and fraternity" developed and instituted by the "bourgeois" Republic necessarily limited women. Her evidence is in the weight of rhetoric to influence politics, an important debate in French Revolution historiography, from scholars like Furet and Chartier to historians like Joan Landes. Her methodology is not exactly sloppy and there is little evidence to suggest that she doesn't understand the methodological models she uses. The confusion here must come from that fact that she is combining Habermas' sociological theory with a postmodernist emphasis on the importance of an even more abstract and difficult to document force, the power of language.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Carissa on May 12, 2012
Format: Paperback
I am only including a review because it is clear that this book deserves more than 2 or 3 stars. It is a scholarly work which has been respected and documented in many other historical works in this field, and if it's good enough for professors of history it is sure as hell good enough for the plebeian readers of Amazon.com.
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14 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 17, 2001
Format: Paperback
Joan Landes' "Women and the Public Sphere in the Age of the French Revolution" consists of several essays loosely united by the theme of women and their place in the "public sphere" of activity during the late 18th century-- and specifically during the French Revolution. This is an important and exciting topic-- and it's one that has not yet been researched to exhaustion.
Sadly, Landes' book is flawed in several ways. Some of these flaws are forgiveable, but a few are fatal. One of the most obvious faults of this book has to do with one of its central concept-- the idea of the "public sphere". Landes specifically states that she is using this term as the philospher Habermas used it in his famous "Public Transformations of the Public Sphere". However, that is not what she does. Habermas's conception of the public sphere is that the idea of the "public" emerged as a term for referring to the collective sets of feelings arising from private individuals engaged in private activities-- and *NOT* as something that exists in opposition to private interests and activities (which is how Landes uses it). Now, the truth be told-- I don't think it's really a *problem* that Landes uses a different model of the public sphere than Habermas... after all, there's no reason to say that Habermas definition of it is any better than hers. However, the fact of the matter is that Landes claims she really IS using Habermas' model of the public sphere. In other words, it's not that she prefers another model-- it's that she misunderstands the model she's trying to use!
While this fact does not necessarily invalidate the whole book, it is, nontheless, a bit troubling.
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