Tuesday, March 3, 2009

From the Salon to the Schoolroom

The article starts talking about the patriarchy of the society, stating that in divorce men were often granted sole custody of their children. Rogers then quickly introduces the Napoleonic Code, explaining that it restricted women's rights within the family. This gave women a different degree of autonomy that redefined their relationships with not only the family, but also the state. In the thesis of her introduction, Rogers informs that like Hesse and Dean she is "interested in women's writings and social practices and how these created opportunities for women in the first three decades of the new century." 
In her main body, Rogers explains the reservations held towards women's involvement in intellectual studies, whether they be private or public. In particular, Napoleon felt women needed to be "contained" and controlled. Following this, Rogers cites three women- Francoise Therese Antoinette Le Groing la Maisonneuve, Albertine-Adrinne Necker de Saussure, and Claire-Elise Jeanne Gravier de Vergennes. These women were all educated, but their evenutal viewpoints still conflicted concerning the education of women, especially with the onset of the Revolution. The revolution changed everything for women, and Rogers makes a point of this: Women were not in a new political order, and as such many strove to elevate their status.
In Roger's conclusion, she wraps up by saying that the "reconstruction of the family" in the first decades of the first century was both a symbolic and a material problem. Literature reflected this by "(authors placed their) heroines in situations that force them to confront and to conform to new standards of bourgeoisie femininity." Due to this, women felt more able to challenge their status. This gave them a new place in the world, though their new place was labeled simply a "social space" that "by midcentury, the nuances were largely lost, and historians have rushed perhaps too quickly to accept the division of public and private that the Revolution and the Napoleonic Code seemed to reinforce. Moreover, these intellectual constructs pose problems for understanding the role of more social spaces, such as schools."

The End. :)  

Categories: Education, Work, Gender, Families, Politics


  1. I found it really interesting that the women writers discussed by Rogers were of the aristocratic and bourgeois classes, and I got the distinct impression that they were perpetuating old notions of women and education (replacing what had been newer well-informed salon hostess woman). Especially, Le Groing who said that what society requires of a woman is "that she be loveable and useful in her household." Le Groing, in particular, was something of a contradiction because while she made a living with her pen and was certainly educated beyond what was necessary to be "loveable and useful," she was writing that being too educated was unfitting for women. Did she see being an aristocrat as an exception?

  2. I agree with Roni that this would definitely go under categories of difference-it appears that in the example of these three female authors class trumps gender. While statesmen like Mothe Fenelon encouraged the reshaped role of aristocratic women containing her influence within the household, this former women of salons had already made their way into the so called "public sphere" and saw no need to reign themselves in.
    Also, Rogers mentions a few themes that begin to appear in women's education in France like emphasis of women's moral superiority that will later be central to ideas of gender in Victorian England and America. Along with some of these ideals about women, Rogers also foreshadows the more upfront confrontation that will take place between the ideas of public and private spheres and how their exclusivity is not well maintained when women are educated and expected to make any meaningful contribution to society, especially when the locus of the private sphere is the family and education.