Site de Benoît Melançon / Thèses canadiennes en littérature française du XVIIIe siècle

Lampron, Ève-Marie, «Entre cohésions et divisions : les relations entre femmes auteures en France et en Italie (1770-1840)», Montréal, Université de Montréal, thèse de doctorat, 2012, xiii/617 p. Dir. : Susan Dalton. URL : <>.

This thesis documents, catalogues, and analyses relationships between female authors in France and Italy, and between French women and Italian women, from 1770 to 1840. It results from a study of the correspondence and published works of twelve women authors (Anne-Marie de Beaufort d’Hautpoul, Sophie Gay, Félicité de Genlis, Marie-Émilie de Montanclos, Constance Pipelet Salm, Germaine de Staël, Teresa Bandettini, Elisabetta Caminer, Carolina Lattanzi, Diodata Saluzzo, Fortunata Sulgher Fantastici, and Isabella Teotochi Albrizzi) over the course of a period marked by important developments in print culture, the significant involvement of women in the Querelle des femmes, and the increased presence of women authors. These transformations, together with the international political upheaval caused by the French Revolution, saw attacks on female authorship pursued with increased vigour. The relationships between women authors within such a context illustrate the challenges faced in implementing a “common action” aimed at defending a female cause (that of female authors) before the advent of the feminist movement. Often described as either “rivals” or “sisters”, this study demonstrates that the nature of relationships between women in this period was in fact far more complex. On the one hand, the community of female authors examined was marked by a certain degree of cohesion. These writers had wide-ranging networks of contacts, and could rely on each other for support in times of crisis. They constructed female literary genealogies and deconstructed the discourse used by others in reference to their community, particularly that relating to the “exceptionality” of and “rivalry” between women authors. On the other hand, significant differences also ran across the membership of these networks, notably in terms of nationality, political opinions, and the position each woman occupied within literary circles. Over and above these social and political divisions, this thesis illustrates the difficulties women faced in reconciling their individual interests (the advancement of their own careers, the divisive impact of their multiple identities with the cohesion of their sex/gender) with those of the collective (legitimizing female authorship). In short, this study examines the ways in which female authors recognized the importance of their community and faced the challenges of maintaining its cohesion, at a time when not only literary activity, but also the political and cultural context in which it was framed, were undergoing great transformation.

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