Contested Paternity: Constructing Families in Modern France

Contested Paternity: Constructing Families in Modern France

by Rachel G. Fuchs

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Overview

Contested Paternity: Constructing Families in Modern France by Rachel G. Fuchs

Winner, J. Russell Major Prize, American Historical AssociationWinner, Frances Richardson Keller-Sierra Prize, Western Association of Women HistoriansWinner, Charles E. Smith Award, European History section of the Southern Historical Association

This groundbreaking 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.

"A masterpiece in French social, cultural, and gender history." — Lenard Berlanstein, University of Virginia

"Fuchs opens up a new window into the history of families by perceptively examining the legal and customary ways that paternity was negotiated in French society from the old regime to the present." — Robert A. Nye, Oregon State University

"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." — H-France

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

"A tour de force on the history of family law in France from the eighteenth century to modern times." — French Studies

"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 colorful picture of disputes around paternity." — French History

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

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780801888328
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date: 06/28/2008
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 368
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

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

Table of Contents


Acknowledgments     ix
Introduction     1
Families and the Social Order from the Old Regime to the Civil Code     16
Seduction and Courtroom Encounters in the Nineteenth Century     59
Find the Fathers, Save the Children, 1870-1912     109
Courts Attribute Paternity, 1912-1940     160
Families Dismantled and Reconstituted, 1880-1940     200
Paternity and the Family, 1940 to the Present     240
Epilogue     278
Notes     289
Works Cited     325
Index     345

What People are Saying About This

Lenard Berlanstein

A masterpiece in French social, cultural, and gender history. A sweeping account of a crucial but neglected subject, Contested Paternity gets to the heart of the issues that dominate modern French history—above all the tension between a revolutionary and a counterrevolutionary political culture and the long transition from a culture organized around the patriarchal family to one organized around the ungendered individual.

Lenard Berlanstein, University of Virginia

Robert A. Nye

In this richly-documented study, Rachel Fuchs opens up a new window into the history of families by perceptively examining the legal and customary ways that paternity was negotiated in French society from the old regime to the present. This angle of approach yields extraordinary insights into the evolution of fatherhood, women’s changing legal status, and children’s rights and shows us convincingly how the family changed from a biological unit which admitted no outsiders, to a fluid, social institution that effectively satisfies the needs of all its members, no matter what their blood relationships. The way this development unfolded in both custom and law is told here with clarity, scrupulous attention to detail, and often dramatically pertinent illustrations drawn from, correspondence, trials, and landmark jurisprudence.

Robert A. Nye, Oregon State University

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