French Feminism in the 19th Century

By Claire G. Moses

Subjects: French Studies
Series: SUNY series in European Social History
Paperback : 9780873958608, 311 pages, June 1985
Hardcover : 9780873958592, 311 pages, June 1985

Alternative formats available from:


Histories of France have erased the feminist presence from nineteenth-century political life and the feminist impact from the changes that affected the lives of the French. Now, French Feminism in the Nineteenth Century completes the history books by restoring this missing—and vital—chapter of French history.

The book recounts the turbulent story of nineteenth-century French feminism, placing it in the context of the general political events that influenced its development. It also examines feminist thought and activities, using the very words of the women themselves—in books, newspapers, pamphlets, memoirs, diaries, speeches, and letters. Featured is a wealth of previously unpublished personal letters written by Saint-Simonian women. These engrossing documents reveal the nuances of changing consciousness and show how it led to an autonomous women's movement.

Also explored are the relationships between feminist ideology and women's actual status—legal, social, and economic—during the century. Both bourgeois and working-class women are surveyed.

Beginning with a general survey of feminism in France, the book provides historical context and clarifies the later vicissitudes of the "condition feminine. "

Claire Goldberg Moses is Assistant Professor of Women's Studies at the University of Maryland, and managing editor of Feminist Studies.