Contested Paternity: Constructing Families in Modern France

Overview

"This study examines complex notions of paternity and fatherhood in modern France through the lens of contested paternity. Drawing from archival judicial records on paternity suits, paternity denials, deprivation of paternity, and adoption, from the end of the eighteenth century through the twentieth, Rachel G. Fuchs reveals how paternity was defined and how it functioned in the culture and experiences of individual men and women. She addresses the competing definitions of paternity and of families, how public policy toward paternity and the
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Contested Paternity: Constructing Families in Modern France

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Overview

"This study examines complex notions of paternity and fatherhood in modern France through the lens of contested paternity. Drawing from archival judicial records on paternity suits, paternity denials, deprivation of paternity, and adoption, from the end of the eighteenth century through the twentieth, Rachel G. Fuchs reveals how paternity was defined and how it functioned in the culture and experiences of individual men and women. She addresses the competing definitions of paternity and of families, how public policy toward paternity and the family shifted, and what individuals did to facilitate their personal and familial ideals and goals." Issues of paternity and the family have broad implications for an understanding of how private acts were governed by laws of the state. Focusing on paternity as a category of family history, Contested Paternity emphasizes the importance of fatherhood, the family, and the law within the greater context of changing attitudes toward parental responsibility.
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Editorial Reviews

Social History
Fuch's book provides us with an excellent guide to understanding how these legal notions originated and how they have evolved in modern French history.

— Camille Robcis

Choice

[Fuchs] effectively links battles over paternity and parental responsibility to wider political developments... highly recommended.

French Studies
Through her comprehensive study of paternity suits and the impact of banning them from 1804 and 1812, Rachel Fuchs has produced a tour de force on the history of family law in France from the eighteenth century to modern times.

— Máire Fedelma Cross

Dalhousie French Studies
This book's scope and framework make it a significant addition to the history of families in modern France.

— Deborah Houk Schocket

French History

Fuchs's treatment of the theme of constructions of paternity is stimulating, clear and yet highly refined... With her considerable methodological expertise as a social historian of France, she weaves an exceedingly colourful picture of disputes around paternity.

Journal of Interdisciplinary History
The cases that Fuchs presents are fascinating.

— Caroline Ford

H-France
Has taken a difficult and neglected subject and opened up its many complexities in a way in which no other work I can think of comes close.

— Siân Reynolds

Journal of Law and History Review
This is a wonderful book, which balances aspects of social, cultural, legal, and gender history. One of its many strengths is Fuchs's ability to combine vivid individual stories with broad analysis. She has carefully sampled judicial archives and the legal press to unearth the concerns and struggles of particular women and men. But she also gives a compelling story of changes in both ideas and laws over the sweep of two centuries. She demonstrates convincingly that the seemingly small question of recherche de paternite can illuminate fundamental social and cultural transformations.

— Gerard N. Magliocca

American Historical Review
A compelling study that examines the epochal shift in French fatherhood over the past two centuries.

— Kristen Stromberg Childers

Clio
Accessible and of interest to readers from a variety of disciplines and interdisciplinary junctures.

— Sylvia Schafer

Law and History Review
A wonderful book.

— Jennifer Heuer

European History Quarterly
Contested Paternity is an excellent book, which should be included in the library of anyone who works on gender, family, economy, law or modern France.

— Lisa Wynne Smith

H-France - Jean Elisabeth Pedersen

Fascinating in every particular... One of the most important aspects of Contested Paternity is the way in which Fuchs uses the history of paternity suits as a way to analyze changing attitudes towards fatherhood, motherhood, and childhood.

American Historical Review - Kristen Stromberg Childers

A compelling study that examines the epochal shift in French fatherhood over the past two centuries.

Clio - Sylvia Schafer

Accessible and of interest to readers from a variety of disciplines and interdisciplinary junctures.

French Studies - Máire Fedelma Cross

Through her comprehensive study of paternity suits and the impact of banning them from 1804 and 1812, Rachel Fuchs has produced a tour de force on the history of family law in France from the eighteenth century to modern times.

Journal of Interdisciplinary History - Caroline Ford

The cases that Fuchs presents are fascinating.

Dalhousie French Studies - Deborah Houk Schocket

This book's scope and framework make it a significant addition to the history of families in modern France.

Social History - Camille Robcis

Fuch's book provides us with an excellent guide to understanding how these legal notions originated and how they have evolved in modern French history.

H-France - Charles Sowerwine

In this splendid study, Rachel Fuchs takes an entirely new angle on gender history... On completing the book, all historians will say as I did, 'I wish I'd thought of that.' Fuchs not only thought of it; she did it and did it very well indeed.

H-France - Siân Reynolds

Has taken a difficult and neglected subject and opened up its many complexities in a way in which no other work I can think of comes close.

Journal of Law and History Review - Gerard N. Magliocca

This is a wonderful book, which balances aspects of social, cultural, legal, and gender history. One of its many strengths is Fuchs's ability to combine vivid individual stories with broad analysis. She has carefully sampled judicial archives and the legal press to unearth the concerns and struggles of particular women and men. But she also gives a compelling story of changes in both ideas and laws over the sweep of two centuries. She demonstrates convincingly that the seemingly small question of recherche de paternite can illuminate fundamental social and cultural transformations.

Law and History Review - Jennifer Heuer

A wonderful book.

European History Quarterly - Lisa Wynne Smith

Contested Paternity is an excellent book, which should be included in the library of anyone who works on gender, family, economy, law or modern France.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801888328
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 6/28/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 6.12 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Rachel G. Fuchs is a professor of history at Arizona State University.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1 Families and the Social Order from the Old Regime to the Civil Code 16

2 Seduction and Courtroom Encounters in the Nineteenth Century 59

3 Find the Fathers, Save the Children, 1870-1912 109

4 Courts Attribute Paternity, 1912-1940 150

5 Families Dismantled and Reconstituted, 1880-1940 200

6 Paternity and the Family, 1940 to the Present 240

Epilogue 278

Notes 289

Works Cited 325

Index 345

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