The taming of La Bourgeoise: bourgeois French women as gendered creators and consumers of art, décor, fashion and feminism during the Third French Republic, 1870-1914

Gillingham, Anne Elaine (2015) The taming of La Bourgeoise: bourgeois French women as gendered creators and consumers of art, décor, fashion and feminism during the Third French Republic, 1870-1914. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

This thesis analyses the gendered choices made by bourgeois French women as creators and consumers of art, décor, fashion and feminism during the Third French Republic 1870-1914. Specifically, it examines the extent of female agency and individuality in fashioning a self-image, and how this issue relates to the limitations on women’s exercise of professional and political choice. The first of three core chapters (Chapter 2) establishes that women were able to construct a self-image as a creator and/or consumer of art, décor and fashion but this ability was limited by both the gendered discourses inherent in the French art world and, more widely, by the ideals of womanhood prescribed by bourgeois social mores. Subsequently, the complex and potentially confusing nature of the conflicting textual and visual images that bourgeois French women were exposed to as creators and consumers is discussed in Chapter 3, and exposes the many tensions and contradictions in their aesthetic roles. Finally, the correlation between female agency, aesthetics, and participation in the feminist movement is examined in Chapter 4 leading to the eventual conclusion that an increasing emphasis on physical appearance and aestheticism meant that few French women chose to fully discard domesticity and traditional notions of femininity in favour of a career and/or feminism. Instead, many gravitated towards less radical and publicly visible forms of feminist action whilst others renounced feminism entirely. By illustrating the importance of aesthetics in the personal, professional and political lives of bourgeois French women, this thesis brings to the discipline an ability to interconnect the study of cultural representations with more detailed evidence from women’s everyday lives. Furthermore, it will contribute to the history of female agency, individuality and political power by providing a richer, more informed picture of just how women in the Third Republic were shaped by aesthetics.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Due to copyright restrictions the full text of this thesis cannot be made available online. Access to the printed version is available.
Keywords: gender, feminism, art, décor, fashion, French, aesthetics
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General)
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D901 Europe (General)
D History General and Old World > DC France
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Humanities > History
Funder's Name: UNSPECIFIED
Supervisor's Name: Rapport, Dr Michael
Date of Award: 2015
Depositing User: Mrs Anne E. Gillingham
Unique ID: glathesis:2015-6660
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 15 Sep 2015 14:31
Last Modified: 23 Sep 2015 12:02
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/6660

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