The Twilight of the Goddesses: Women and Representation in the French Revolution

Overview

In this extraordinarily rich book, Madelyn Gutwirth examines over one hundred prints and paintings, dozens of texts, and the work of a great many cultural critics in order to consider how gender politics were played out during a highly volatile era. Finding evidence of a crisis in gender relations during the eighteenth century, she traces its evolution in the politics of rococo art, demographic trends, plans for the control of prostitution, maternal nursing and wet-nursing practices, folklore, the salon, and in ...
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Overview

In this extraordinarily rich book, Madelyn Gutwirth examines over one hundred prints and paintings, dozens of texts, and the work of a great many cultural critics in order to consider how gender politics were played out during a highly volatile era. Finding evidence of a crisis in gender relations during the eighteenth century, she traces its evolution in the politics of rococo art, demographic trends, plans for the control of prostitution, maternal nursing and wet-nursing practices, folklore, the salon, and in the theater of Diderot and the polemics of Rousseau. Gutwirth shows how a hostile gender ideology consigned women to a solely mothering role before the political revolution began, and how women who struggled to participate in the nascent First French Republic found themselves hobbled by the representational practices of the revolutionaries, especially their use of allegory. The artificiality and anachronism of the Revolution's representation of women were ratified by the Napoleonic Code. Once depicted as erotic goddesses by the rococo, then as goddesses of liberty (Marianne), the dominant figuration of women around 1800 would become the dying waif. As modern republics began their struggle toward legitimacy, women's posture within them had been reduced, by representation, to feeble marginality. Gutwirth combines perspectives from literature, history, sociology, demography, psychology, and art history and criticism in her delineation of this crisis.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813517995
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/1994
  • Pages: 440

Table of Contents

List of Images
Preface
1 Gender and Culture in the Late Eighteenth Century
Ch. 1 Gendered Rococo as Political Provocation 3
Ch. 2 Infant Eros and Human Infant 23
Ch. 3 Social Woman: Between Nature and Culture 76
Ch. 4 The War of the Sexes: From the Fall of Merteuil to the Rise of Brutus 133
2 1789 and After
Ch. 5 Women's Early Revolution 213
Ch. 6 Goddesses and Allegories 252
Ch. 7 The Limits to Women's Action as Empowerment, 1792-1795 285
Ch. 8 The Maenad Factor; Or Sex, Politics, and Murderousness 307
Ch. 9 Caritas and the Republic: Imageries of the Breast 341
Postlude 369
Notes 387
Index 429
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