Marriage and Domestic Violence
in Eighteenth-Century French Literature
and Society

Mary Trouille
Illinois State University

Course Description and Objectives

Over the past fifteen years, domestic violence has become the subject of a national dialogue in the United States and of discussion in international forums, most notably at the Women's Conference in Beijing. This has led to the passage of new laws and to the establishment of organizations and programs designed to help the victims of such abuse and to increase public awareness of the problem. The heightened awareness of this issue has in turn led sociologists, social historians, legal scholars, and literary critics to examine the attitudes, practices, and laws concerning domestic violence in past generations and other cultures. In an article published in 1984 titled "Domestic Violence in Literature: A Preliminary Study," Ruth Nadelhaft observed that "domestic violence has not yet been identified, let alone studied, systematically in literature." Although the issue has received a great deal of attention among literary critics in the seventeen years since the appearance of Nadelhaft's essay, relatively little work has been published to date concerning domestic violence in eighteenth-century France and descriptions of it in the literature of the period. By examining the evolution of attitudes, practices, and laws regarding spousal abuse in the eighteenth century and the accounts of such abuse in the literature of the period, we can gain a better understanding of the issue of domestic violence today.


In this sixteen-week course, we examined marriage and domestic violence in eighteenth-century French society and literature. Specifically, we read letters and autobiographical works by eighteenth-century French women, fictional and fictionalized accounts of marriages gone awry, writings by moralists, legal tracts, and documents from court cases, as well as background material on the social history of the period in order to gain insight into the attitudes, practices, and laws of the period concerning marital discord and spousal abuse. The fictional works included Restif de la Bretonne's novel Ingénue Saxancour (a thinly disguised account of his daughter's marriage to an abusive husband), Stéphanie de Genlis's "Histoire de la Comtesse de ***" embedded in her novel Adèle et Théodore (a gothic tale of a woman imprisoned by her jealous husband in a secret dungeon beneath his palace), Marie-Jeanne Riccoboni's novel Lettres de Madame de Sancerre, and Diderot's short story "Madame de la Carlière." The autobiographical works included excerpts from Louise d'Epinay's autobiographical novel Histoire de Madame de Montbrillant and Françoise de Graffigny's letters to her father describing her husband's physical violence toward her, which we read along with a passage from Lettres d'une Péruvienne, in which she presents a scathing critique of the condition of her female contemporaries: the debilitating effects of their upbringing and education and their unequal, often oppressed status within marriage. We also read court documents or judicial memoirs regarding six separation suits brought by women against abusive husbands. The accounts of marital strife in these cases, the rulings made by the judges, and the editors' comments all provide valuable insight into the attitudes, laws, and practices concerning separation and spousal abuse in eighteenth-century France. The central focus of the course will be to explore the interconnections between life and literature by comparing incidents of marital strife and abuse described by actual victims in letters, memoirs, and court testimonies and fictional or fictionalized depictions of such incidents in the literature of the period.


Among the questions we will address are (1) what limits and punishments were prescribed for spousal abuse in eighteenth-century French laws, religious doctrines, and moral treatises; (2) to what extent was such abuse tolerated by the police, magistrates, and public and what justifications were given and accepted for such behavior; (3) to what extent were these attitudes and behaviors influenced by the social class of the perpetrators and victims (for example, was physical abuse more common and more widely tolerated among the poor and working classes); (4) how did narratives of domestic violence differ in tone and substance depending on the form adopted (letters, memoirs, court testimonies, newspaper articles, fictional or fictionalized accounts, etc.) and the gender and social class of narrator and audience; (5) what motives-reformist, reactionary, sensationalist, vindicatory-prompted people to write and publish these accounts; (6) how did attitudes, practices, and laws evolve over the course of the century and how were they affected by changes in social, political, and ideological structures? For example, did the legalization of divorce in 1792 following the French Revolution lead to a decline in spousal abuse? Finally, to what extent did the twin ideals of companionate marriage and of domesticity advocated by Rousseau and others beginning in the 1760s affect people's expectations of marriage and the norms of marital behavior?

To better understand the higher expectations for marital happiness that developed in the second half of the eighteenth century, we will begin the course by reading excerpts from Rousseau's novel Julie ou la Nouvelle Héloïse, the first major literary work in France extolling companionate marriage. We will then read several works that challenged the ideal of companionate marriage set forth by Rousseau: Samuel de Constant's Le Mari sentimental, Isabelle de Charrière's Lettres de Mistress Henley (which responds to Constant's novel as well), and excerpts from Louise d'Epinay's Histoire de Madame de Montbrillant.

The course met for sixteen weeks for three hours one evening each week. A two-hour final exam was given in the seventeenth week.

Course Requirements and Assignments

Term paper

The students all wrote one term paper, but the expectations were different for undergraduates and graduate students. The paper (due the last week of the semester) was a comparison of a fictional work we had read with a court case read we had studied. Undergraduates were expected to read at least one critical study of the fictional work chosen (in addition to any studies read for class) and one pertinent study of the social or legal history of the period (in addition to those read for class) and then to respond to these studies in their own analysis. Papers written by undergraduates were to be a minimum of nine pages and a maximum of twelve (excluding endnotes).


Graduate students were expected to read at least two critical studies of the fictional work chosen (in addition to any studies read for class) and one pertinent study of the social or legal history of the period (in addition to those read for class) and then to respond to these studies in their own analysis. Papers written by graduate students were be a minimum of twelve pages and a maximum of fifteen (excluding endnotes).

I explained to the students, both in the syllabus and in class, that by "responding to" these studies, I did not mean simply to quote or cite them, but to react to them-either to agree or disagree, based on their own analysis of the texts. I pointed out that there is often more than one valid way to interpret a given text, that scholars (both literary critics and historians) often disagree with each other in their interpretations, and that this kind of debate is what makes scholarship exciting. At the same time, I cautioned students not to get bogged down in the introductory, background material, stressing that the focus should be on the two primary texts-on their analysis and comparison of them. The point of the paper was to build on the insights the students had gained concerning the attitudes, laws, and practices concerning marriage, separation, and spousal abuse in eighteenth-century France and then to use the interpretive skills they had acquired to probe the meaning of the two main texts.

Students were asked to turn in a formal prospectus (summary of topic, outline, and abstract) at least two weeks before the paper was due. The purpose of the prospectus was to help them plan their paper in advance, to give their interpretation and arguments adequate time to develop, and to give them feedback on their project before they began writing. The students were given detailed instructions for the prospectus (see instructions for prospectus on pp. 93 -94).

Exams

Two exams were given. The midterm exam covered works read during the first eight weeks of the course and consisted of two parts: (1) a twenty-point multiple-choice section on the required background readings the students had done thus far, and (2) an eighty-point essay section (a choice of two out of three essay questions each worth forty points). The final exam consisted of three essay questions and covered works read during the second half of the semester. To help students prepare for the exams, a set of summary questions were handed out and discussed in advance. (See the two sets of "Questions for Summary Discussion of Texts," pp. 97-99).

Evaluation

Preparation/participation in class discussions 20%
Midterm 20%
Prospectus for term paper 10%
Term paper 25%
Final 25%

Teaching Materials and Strategies

In order to draw comparisons among texts of different periods and genres and to help trace the evolution of attitudes and practices over the course of the century, the same set of eleven questions were used for discussion of each of the primary texts. (See discussion questions, p. 95) These questions helped give continuity and coherence to discussions of the social and textual issues central to the course. They also encouraged students to go beyond purely thematic commentary to deal with broader institutional problems, as well questions of genre, voice, point of view, tone, and rhetoric. These questions served not only as a framework for class discussions, but also helped students formulate the topics for their term papers.

The questions for the summary discussion of the texts encouraged students to make connections and comparisons on a broader scale. These summary questions also helped the class prepare for the midterm and final exams.

To serve as a framework for discussion of the primary texts, I had students read three kinds of background materials: (1) writings on marriage and spousal abuse by eighteenth-century French moralists, theologians, legal scholars, social critics, and reformers; (2) studies by twentieth-century social historians on the attitudes, practices, and laws in eighteenth-century France regarding marital discord, spousal abuse, and separation; and (3) pertinent studies of the primary texts by twentieth-century literary critics. The first group of works included Antoine Blanchard's confessional tracts "Péchés des Maris à l'égard de leurs Femmes" [Sins of Husbands toward their Wives] and "Péchés de l'épouse à l'égard de son mary" [Sins of the Wife toward Her Husband] (1713), pertinent articles from two editions of Rousseau de la Combe's Recueil de Jurisprudence Civile (published in 1736 and 1769) and from Guyot's 1785 Repertoire universel et raisonné de jurisprudence (to trace the evolution in the laws regarding separation and spousal abuse), excerpts from Mercier's Tableau de Paris (1785), and Mme de Cailli's Griefs et plaintes des femmes malmariées [The Unhappily Married Women's Lament] (1789).

Among the historical studies we read were selected chapters from James Traer's Marriage and the Family in Eighteenth-Century France, Roderick Phillips's Family Breakdown in Late Eighteenth-Century France: Divorce in Rouen, 1792-1803, Nadine Bérenguier's essay "Victorious Victims: Women and Publicity in Mémoires Judiciaires," and an essay of mine titled "Conflicting Views of Marriage and Spousal Abuse in Pre-Revolutionary France" (that examines one of the separation cases we read). To broaden the scope of our inquiry, we also read the medieval fabliau "Sire Hain et dame Anïeuse," which gives a comic description of spousal abuse, as well as excerpts from the essay "Wife-Torture in England" published in 1878 by British reformer Frances Power Cobbe and Benoîte Groult's preface to the French edition of Erin Pizzey's ground-breaking study Scream Quietly or the Neighbors Will Hear (first published in 1973).


Because of time constraints, the choice of background materials that students were required to read was necessarily limited. However, students were required to do additional background reading for their term paper. The bibliography for the course provided a supplementary list of historical and literary studies from which they could choose, and all these studies were put on reserve in order to facilitate the students' access to them. (See the list of reserve materials, pp. 84-88).

Assessment of the Course

This new course, first taught in the fall of 1999, was drawn from my sabbatical-year research in Paris and Toulouse during the 1998-99 school year. It was extremely satisfying to be able to teach my current research and to be able to refine my theories and interpretations in discussions with my students. However, since much of the material for the course was available only in the original eighteenth-century editions or in nineteenth-century collections, organizing the course packet proved to be a major undertaking. (See list of materials included in the course packet, pp. 81-84.) I also put together a fairly substantial collection of more recently published texts and articles for the reserve desk at our university ibrary, from which students could draw for their research papers. (See list of the materials put on reserve, pp. 84-88.)


The course was very ambitious. It required students not only to respond to a wide array of eighteenth-century texts and studies by twentieth-century historians and literary critics, but also to take position on an important and difficult social issue. Careful guidance was needed, particularly on this last issue, since the subject of domestic violence inevitably raises strong feelings in the classroom-an additional pedagogical challenge in what was already a very challenging course for both students and their professor.

As it turned out, thirteen of the fifteen students in the course were undergraduates, and most had never taken a 300-level literature or culture course before. The cultural/historical background of the students and their overall skill level was the weakest I had yet encountered in a 300-level course at Illinois State. It soon became clear to me that my original goals for the course-both in terms of the amount of reading and the level of critical analysis I could reasonably expect-were overly ambitious.

In the early weeks of the semester, I spent a fair amount of time rethinking my expectations for the course, cutting down the length and number of reading assignments, and devising strategies to help the students better understand the material and its historical context. The course schedule given below is taken from the revised syllabus, as is the list of required texts. The original syllabus had included an additional separation case and several more historical studies and critical works. It was above all the literary criticism that I reluctantly sacrificed in order to make the reading assignments more manageable. (I did manage to keep critical studies of the most important literary texts we read-those by Rousseau, d'Epinay, Constant, Charrière, and Restif de la Bretonne.) I did my best to compensate for these omissions by citing other literary studies in class and by offering critical insights of my own as much as time allowed. Requiring students to read at least one critical study of the fictional work they chose for their research paper and one pertinent study of the social or legal history of the period (in addition to any studies read for class) also helped deepen their understanding.

A certain amount of depth was nevertheless sacrificed in order to maintain the breadth of the course. I felt that this choice was justified in light of the two main objectives I had articulated for the course: (1) to gain insight into the attitudes, laws, and practices in eighteenth-century France concerning marital discord, spousal abuse, and separation; and (2) to explore the interconnections between life and literature by comparing incidents of marital strife and abuse described by actual victims in letters, memoirs, andcourt testimonies and fictional or fictionalized depictions of such incidents in the literature of the period.

A week prior to each class meeting, I divided the students into four study groups of three to four students-taking care to place one strong student in each group-and held each group responsible for three of the discussion questions. Students were given fifteen to twenty minutes at the beginning of each three-hour class to discuss the questions among themselves, before presenting their answers to the class as a whole. I found the use of these small group discussions helpful in improving the weaker students' understanding of the texts and in encouraging them to engage in class discussions.

In preparation for the midterm exam (which included a multiple-choice section on the required background readings), I e-mailed students an outline of the historical information they would be expected to know. A set of summary questions were given to students and discussed prior to each exam to help them prepare. (See the two sets of "Questions for Summary Discussion of Texts," pp. 97-99.) The essay questions on the exams were drawn from these summary discussion questions.

Requiring students to submit a formal prospectus for their term papers two weeks before the due date encouraged them to plan their papers in advance and gave them feedback on their project before they began writing. Since most of the students had never done a formal prospectus before and several had only limited experience writing research papers, I showed the class sample prospectuses using an overhead projector and gave students extensive coaching (both orally and in writing) on how to go about researching and writing their papers. (See instructions for the
prospectus, pp. 93-94.)

Given the problems described above, I did not look forward to reading the evaluations for this course. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the students' response to the course was generally positive. In the open-ended comments, several mentioned that they appreciated the effort I had made to cut down the readings and to tailor the course to their level. Most found the readings quite stimulating and the topic of the course refreshingly different from that of their other courses, especially because of the way it tied in with present-day discussions of domestic violence. A few complained that there was still too much reading and that some of the court cases were somewhat redundant. When I teach the course again, I plan to omit one of the court cases from the syllabus.

I look forward to teaching this course again, but at the 400 level (that is, in a seminar limited to students in our M.A. program in French and to advanced undergraduate French majors invited to take the course).

Required Texts

To buy at the university bookstore:

Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. Julie, ou la Nouvelle Héloïse. Paris: Garnier-Flammarion, 1967.
Charrière, Isabelle de. Lettres de Mistress Henley. Modern Language Association, 1993.

Course packet to buy:

Anon. [Cerfvol?]. Lettre du marquis de C*** au comte de F*** contre le divorce. Paris: Desenne, 1790.


Anon. "Justification de M. Henley adressée à l'amie de sa femme." Yverdon, 1784. Reprinted in Samuel de Constant. Le Mari sentimental, . . . suivi des Lettres de Mistriss Henley. Geneva: Buisson, 1785, pp. 303-40, 356-60.


Blanchard, Antoine [Prieur de Saint-Mars-les-Vendôme]. "Péchés des Maris à l'égard de leurs Femmes" and "Péchés de
l'épouse à l'égard de son mary," in Essay d'exhortation pour . . . un examen général sur . . . les péchés de plusieurs états. . . 2 vols. Paris, 1713, v. 2, pp. 195-99 [typewritten excerpts].


Cailli, Mme de. Griefs et plaintes des femmes malmariées. Paris, 1789.


Cobbe, Frances Power. "Wife-Torture in England." Contemporary Review 32 (April-July 1878): 55-87. [5 pages of
Typewritten excerpts - complete article available from Reserve Desk]


Constant, Samuel de. Le Mari sentimental. Lausanne: Eds. Des lettres de Lausanne, 1928, pp. 67-228. Introduction and
notes by Pierre Kohler.


De Lacroix. Article "Mari." In Guyot, ed. Repertoire universel et raisonné de jurisprudence [1785], v. 11: 329-37.


Diderot, Denis. "Madame de la Carlière." In Quatre Contes. Ed. Jacques Proust. Geneva: Droz, 1964, pp. 105-34.


Genlis, Stéphanie de. L'Histoire de la Duchesse de C***. In Adèle et Théodore, ou Lettres sur l'éducation [1782]. Paris:
Maradan, 1804, v. 3, pp. 96-193.


Guyot, Pierre-Jean-Jacques-Guillaume, ed. Repertoire universel et raisonné de jurisprudence civile, criminelle, canonique
Et bénéficiale.
Paris: Visse, 1784-85. (Articles: "Correction," "Mari," "Adultère," "Séparation de corps et d'habitation.") [Typewritten excerpts]


Kohler, Pierre. Introduction and notes to Samuel de Constant. Le Mari sentimental, suivi des Lettres de Mistriss Henley de
Mme de Charrière
. Lausanne: Eds. des lettres de Lausanne, 1928, pp. 9-64.


Lély, Gilbert. Introduction to Restif de la Bretonne's Ingénue Saxancour ou La Femme séparée [1789]. Paris: Lattès, 1979
(Series Classiques interdits), pp. 5-26.


Mercier, Louis-Sébastien. Tableau de Paris. 2 vols. Ed. J.-C. Bonnet.
Mercure de France, 1994.
"Abus de la société" (article 746), v. 2, pp. 709-10 (skip 711).
"Femmes d'artisans et de petits marchands" (article 719), v. 2,
pp. 629-30 (skip 631-32).
"Filles à marier" (article 873), v. 2, pp. 1097-99.
"Jeune mariée" (article 28), v. 1, pp. 83-85.
"Mariage-Adultère" (article 312), v. 1, pp. 820-24.
"Maris" (article 539), v. 1, pp. 1488-91.
"Séparation" (article 1000), v. 2, pp. 1437-41.


Merlin de Douai, "Séparation de corps et d'habitation." See Guyot.


Mettra, Louis-François. Correspondance secrète politique et littéraire. Neuwied [Germany], v. 9 [1780], 426-29.


Riccoboni, Marie-Jeanne. Lettres de Madame de Sancerre [1767]. In Œuvres de Madame Riccoboni. 6 vols. Paris:
Foucault, 1818, v. 4, pp. 155-338. (Discussion will focus mainly on pp. 191-239.)


Restif de la Bretonne, Nicolas-Edme. Ingénue Saxancour ou La Femme séparée. Paris: Lattès, 1979.


Rouger, Gilbert, ed. Fabliaux. Paris: Gallimard, 1878. "Sire Hain et dame Anïeuse," pp. 118-25.


Rousseau de la Combe. Recueil de Jurisprudence Civile. 1st ed. Paris: Mesnier, 1736.
Article "Adultère," v. 1, sections 5 & 6, p. 7, column 2.
Article "De la séparation entre mari et femme," sections 4 & 9, p. 346.


_______. Recueil de Jurisprudence Civile. 4e ed. Paris: Knapen, 1769.
Article "Adultère," v. 1, sections 5 & 6, pp. 13-14.
Article "De la séparation entre mari et femme," sections 4 & 9, pp. 638-40.


Trouille, Mary. "Conflicting Views of Marriage and Spousal Abuse in Pre-Revolutionary France." Studies on Voltaire and
The Eighteenth Century
. December, 2001.

Selected judicial memoirs on separation cases (in order of assignment):

"Plaidoyer pour Dame Anne de Merelessart . . . contre le sieur de Mailly, son mari" (Quatrième Plaidoyer) [1633]. In
Annales du barreau français. Paris: B. Warée, 1822, v. 2, 1e partie, pp. 122-38.


"Mémoire pour Demoiselle Charlotte Dorneau contre Nicolas Hutinet, son mari" [1718]. In Annales du barreau
français
. Paris: B. Warée, 1829, v. 2, 2e partie, pp. 34-49.


Separation case of Jeanne Fouragnan v. Pierre Rouches [1782] In Nicholas-Toussaint Lemoyne Desessarts, ed. Causes
Célèbres, curieuses et intéressantes, de toutes les cours souveraines du royaume avec les jugemens qui les ont
décidées.
165 vols. Paris: P. C. Simon, 1773-87, v. 105 [1783], Cause 341, pp. 3-126.


Separation case of demoiselle N. (la dame O.) v. sieur O [1787]. In Desessarts, ed. Causes célèbres, v. 161 [1787],
Cause 585, pp. 31-95.


Separation case of Dame D. . . v. sieur D. [1787]. In Desessarts, ed. Causes célèbres, v. 158 [1787], Cause 577, pp. 97-
207.
Separ

ation suit of Mme Germain [1780]. In Louis-François Mettra, Correspondance secrète politique et littéraire. Neuwied
[Germany], v. 9 [1780], pp. 426-29.

Bibliography/Texts on reserve:


Bauer, Carol and Laurence Ritt. "'A Husband is a beating animal' - Frances Power Cobbe Confronts the Wife-Abuse Problem
in Victorian England." International Journal of Women's Studies 6, 2 (March/April 1983): 99-118.


_________ . "Wife-Abuse, Late Victorian Feminists, and the Legacy of Frances Power Cobbe." International Journal of Women's
Studies
6, 3 (May/June 1983): 195-207.


Bérenguier, Nadine. "Victorious Victims: Women and Publicity in Mémoires Judiciaires." In Going Public. Women and Publishing
in Early Modern France
, ed. Elizabeth C. Goldsmith and Dena Goodman. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1995, pp. 62-78.


Cobbe, Frances Power. "Wife-Torture in England." Contemporary Review 32 (April-July 1878): 55-87.


Cragg, Olga B. and Rosena Davison, eds. Sexualité, mariage et famille au XVIIIe siècle. Québec: Presses de l'Université
Laval, 1998. [Essays by Went-Daoust (173-83), Roulston (185-94), Denby (279-90), Van Dijk (291-306), and Whatley (265-
78).


DeJean, Joan. "Divorce, Desire, and the Novel: Notorious Women of 1690-1715." In Tender Geographies. Women and the
Origins of the Novel in France
. New York: Columbia University Press, 1991, pp. 127-58.


Didier, Béatrice. "La femme à la recherche de son image: Mme de Charrière et l'écriture féminine dans la seconde moitié du
XVIIIe siècle." In Paul Hoffmann, ed. "The Portrayal and Condition of Women in Eighteenth-Century France." Studies
on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century
193 (1980): 1981-84.


Epinay, Louise d'. Les Contre-Confessions: Histoire de Madame de Montbrillant. Preface by Elisabeth Badinter. Notes by
Georges Roth. Paris: Mercure de France, 1989.


Farge, Arlette. Fragile Lives: Violence, Power and Solidarity in Eighteenth-Century Paris. Cambridge: Harvard University
Press, 1993. [Eng. trans. by Carol Shelton of La Vie fragile. Violences, pouvoirs et solidarités au XVIIIe siècle. Paris:
Hachette, 1986). [See introduction regarding the challenges of archival research.]


Francini, Giacomo. "Divorce and Separations in Eighteenth-Century France: An Outline for a Social History of Law," The History of
the Family
2, 1 (1997): 99-113.


Graffigny, Françoise de. Two letters to father [1716], in Correspondance, ed. English Showalter et al. Oxford: Voltaire
Foundation, Taylor Institution, 1985-, v. 1, pp. 1-3. Also see "Biographie de Mme de Graffigny: la période 1695-1739," v. 1,
pp. xxviii 3-xxxii.


_____________ . Lettres d'une Péruvienne [1747]. New York: MLA, 1993.


Groult, Benoîte. Preface to Crie moins fort, les voisins vont t'entendre. (French trans. of Erin Pizzey. Scream Quietly or
the Neighbors Will Hear.) Eds. des femmes, 1975, pp. 7-14.


Hardwick, Julie. "Seeking Separations: Gender, Marriages, and the Household Economies in Early Modern France." French
Historical Studies
21 (1998): 157-80.


Hoffmann, Paul. "The Portrayal and Condition of Women in Eighteenth-Century France." Studies on Voltaire and the
Eighteenth Century
193 (1980): 1881-2040.


Lottin, Alain. "Vie et mort du couple: Difficultés conjugales et divorces dans le Nord de la France aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles."
XVIIe siècle [Special issue on Le XVIIe siècle et la famille] 102/103 (1974): 59-78.


Lottin, Alain and G. Savelon. "Les 'Divorcés. '" In Lottin, La désunion du couple sous l'Ancien Régime: L'Exemple du Nord. Lille:
Université de Lille III, 1975, pp. 113-35.


Merrick, Jeffrey . "Domestic Politics: Divorce and Despotism in Late Eighteenth-Century France." In The Past as Prologue. Essays
in Honor of the Twenty-fifth Anniversary of ASECS
, ed. Carla H. Hay and Syndy M. Conger. New York: AMS Press, 1995,
pp. 373-86.


Niklaus, Robert. "Etude comparée de la situation de la femme en Angleterre et en France." In Paul Hoffmann, ed. "The Portrayal
and Condition of Women in Eighteenth-Century France." Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century 193 (1980): 1909-18.


Ourliac, Paul and J. de la Malafosse. Histoire du droit privé. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1968. See v. 3, Ch. 5:
"Ancien droit: La Condition de la femme," pp. 126-59, 198-99, 212-15, 218-22, 237.


Phillips, Roderick. Family Breakdown in Late Eighteenth-Century France: Divorce in Rouen, 1792-1803. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1980.


________ . "Women and Family Breakdown in Eighteenth-Century France: Rouen, 1780-1800." Social History 2 (1976): 197-218.


________ . "Women's Emancipation, the Family, and Social Change in Eighteenth-Century France." Journal of Social History 12, 4
(Summer 1979): 553-68.


Rabine, Leslie W. Reading the Romantic Heroine: Text, History, Ideology. University of Michigan Press, 1985.


Rogers, Adrienne. "Women and the Law." In French Women and the Age of Enlightenment, ed. Samia I. Spencer. Bloomington:
Indiana University Press, 1984, pp. 33-48.


Segalen, Martine. Love and Power in the Peasant Family. Eng. Trans. by Sarah Matthews of Mari et femme dans la société paysanne.
Paris, 1980. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983.


Showalter, English et al. "Biographie de Mme de Graffigny: la période 1695-1739." In Correspondance de Mme de Graffigny: Oxford:
Voltaire Foundation, Taylor Institution, 1985-, v. 1, pp. xxviii 3-xxxii.


Simmons, Sarah. "Héroïne ou figurante? La femme dans le roman du XVIIIe siècle en France." In Paul Hoffmann, ed. "The
Portrayal and Condition of Women in Eighteenth-Century France." Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century 193
(1980): 1919-24.


Solé, Jacques. L'Amour en occident à l'époque moderne. Paris: Albin Michel, 1976. See Chap. 2 , "Les rapports conjugaux," pp.
50-61 1, 63 2-65 2, 72-78 2, 80 2.


Spencer, Samia I., ed. French Women and the Age of Enlightenment. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1984.


Szramkiewicz, Romuald. Histoire du droit français de la famille. Paris: Dalloz, 1995. See Ch. 3: "La famille dans les derniers
siècles de l'Ancien Régime (45-61); Ch. 4: "La Révolution et la famille" (71-85).


Tanner, Tony. Adultery in the Novel: Contract and Transgression. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1979.


Traer, James. Marriage and the Family in Eighteenth-Century France. Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 1980.


Trouille, Mary. Sexual Politics in the Enlightenment: Women Writers Read Rousseau. Albany, New York: State University of New
York Press, 1997.


Vissière, Isabelle, ed. Procès des femmes au temps des philosophes ou la violence masculine au XVIIIe siècle. Paris:
Editions des femmes, 1985. See separation case of Marquise de Mézières v. Collet [1775], pp. 225-46.

Schedule


Class 1: Introduction to course. See film Dangerous Liaisons based on Laclos's novel Liaisons Dangereuses [1782].

Class 2: Traer, James. Marriage and the Family in Eighteenth-Century France. Read Introduction (15-21);
Chapter 1 "Sacrament and Contract: Catholic Doctrine and Royal Authority over Marriage and the Family" (pp. 22-29, 37-
40, 46 3-47), Chapter 2 "The Rise of Criticism: The Thought of the French Enlightenment" (48-49, 70-78), Chapter 4: "The
Law of Divorce" (105-107, 120-121 1, 126-27, 131-36). [41 pages] (on reserve).

Rousseau, Julie (1967/1988 Garnier ed.), pp. 9-21, 23-28 1, 32-35, 42 3-43 3, 51-75, 78-84, 95-101, 107 (bottom )-
156, 159 (bottom )-160 [116 p.] Total pages to read: 157 p.

DISCUSSION QUESTION: What do Laclos's novel Liaisons Dangereuses and Rousseau's novel Julie reveal about the
problems underlying marriage practices in eighteenth-century France?

Class 3: Rousseau, Julie, pp. 169 (bottom )-170 (top ), 182 (bottom )-183, 220 (bottom )-263, 268 (bottom )-278,
311-25, 329 (bottom )-330, 358, 365, 367-78, 380 (skip 3 & 4)-392, 398-99 ( 1 & 2), 462 (bottom )-468, 505-19, 534
(bottom )-568 [149 p.].

Class 4: Trouille, Mary. "La Femme Mal Mariée: Mme d'Epinay's Challenge to Julie and Emile." In Sexual Politics in the
Enlightenment: Women Writers Read Rousseau
, pp. 95-125, 150 2-161 (on reserve).

d'Epinay, Les Contre-Confessions: Histoire de Madame de Montbrillant , pp. 189-191 2, 192-207, 213-251, 257-263,
266 1, 268 3-270 1, 273 5-277, 279 3-297, 305-306, 310-315, 331-32, 335 3-342, 362-68, 372-75, 381 last -
387, 390 5-91, 395 3-397, 400-415, 430, 434-436, 439-440, 448-449, 455-456, 557 (bottom)-563, 565 (bottom), 585-
587 1, 677-83, 685, 689-90, 693-97, 717-19, 721-35, 743-45, 754-61, 771-74, 780-81, 783-85, 820-26, 828, 836
(bottom)-838, 973-974, 983-986 [210 p.] (on reserve)

Class 5: Constant, Le Mari sentimental, pp. 67-228, but OMIT the following passages: 70 2 through 72, 74 (lines 7 through
end), 75 (read last 5 lines only), 80 through 88 (read last 6 lines on 88), 102 2 through 111 1, 116 2 through 117
(read last 5 lines on 117), 138 2 through 139 1, 150 3 through 154 1, 182 2, OMIT footnote A (bottom pp. 185-
192) but READ main text on pp. 185 through 192 [140 p.] (in packet)

Kohler, Introduction and notes to Le Mari sentimental, pp. 12 3 through 16 2, 20 2 through 21 4, 36 2 through 50, 58
(note 49) [20 p.] (in packet) Total pages to read: 160.

Class 6: Charrière, Lettres de Mistress Henley, pp. 3-45 & Introduction, pp. xi-xxii [53 p.].


Anon. "Justification de M. Henley adressée à l'amie de sa femme, pp. 303-40, 356-60 (in packet) [42 p.]


Didier, Béatrice. "La femme à la recherche de son image: Mme de Charrière et l'écriture féminine," in Hoffmann,
ed. "The Portrayal and Condition of Women in 18th-CenturyFrance." Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth
Century
193 (1980): 1981-84 [OMIT pp. 1985-88] [4 p.] (on reserve)
Total pages to read: 100.

Class 7: Riccoboni, Marie-Jeanne. Lettres de Madame de Sancerre, pp. 155-338; OMIT pp. 175 3-180 1, 184-
85. [175 p.] (in packet). Discussion will focus mainly on pp. 191-239.

Class 8: Diderot, Denis. "Madame de la Carlière," in Quatre Contes, pp. 105-34. Read pp. 106 (lines 36-53 only), 109-134.
OMIT pp. 105, 107-108. [25 p.] (in packet)


Phillips, Family Breakdown in Late Eighteenth-Century France: Divorce in Rouen, 1792-1803, Introduction, 1-16; ch. 3 "The
Social expressions of family breakdown," 105-42, 159-79; ch. 4 "Outsiders and the couple, 180-95; Conclusion, 197-
203 [96 p.] (on reserve)

Total pages to read: 120.


In class: Discuss "Madame de la Carlière" and summary questions for weeks 1-8 (see end of syllabus).

Class 9: Midterm exam

Class 10: "Plaidoyer pour Dame Anne de Merelessart . . . contre le sieur de Mailly, son mari" [1633].


In Annales du barreau français, v. 2, 1e partie, pp. 90-114, 122-38. [40 p.] (in packet)

Blanchard, Antoine [Prieur de Saint-Mars-les-Vendôme]. "Péchés des Maris à l'égard de leurs Femmes" and "Péchés
de l'épouse à l'égard de son mari," in Essay d'exhortation ... 2 vols. Paris, 1713, v. 2: 195-98 (in packet) [2 p.
typewritten excerpts].


"Sire Hain et dame Anïeuse," in Rouger, Fabliaux, pp. 118-25 [7 p.] (in packet)


Cobbe, Frances Power. "Wife-Torture in England." Contemporary Review 32 (April-July 1878). (5 pages of
typewritten excerpts - in packet) [5 p.] [full article on reserve for consultation if needed]


Groult, Benoîte. Preface to Crie moins fort, les voisins vont t'entendre [French trans. of Erin Pizzey. Scream Quietly
or the Neighbors Will Hear]. Eds. des femmes, 1975, pp. 7-14 [7 p.] (on reserve).


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do these texts tell us about the attitudes of the French and English toward spousal abuse?
Have these attitudes evolved much from the Middle Ages to the 1970s?
Total pages to read: 61.

Class 11: "Mémoire pour Demoiselle Charlotte Dorneau contre Nicolas Hutinet, son mari [1718]." In Annales du
barreau français,
v. 2, 2e partie, pp. 34-49 [15 p.] (in packet) Bérenguier, "Victorious Victims: Women and Publicity
in Mémoires Judiciaires," in Goldsmith,

Going Public, pp. 62-78 [16 p.] (on reserve) Graffigny, Letters to father [1716], in Correspondance, v. 1, pp. 1-3 [3 p.] (on
reserve) "Biographie de Mme de Graffigny: la période 1695-1739," in Correspondance, v. 1, xxviii 3-xxxii [4 p.] (on
reserve)

Graffigny, Lettres d'une péruvienne [1747]. New York: MLA, 1993, pp. 135-46 [12 p.] (on reserve). What autobiographical
elements are found in this passage? (See 141 last -144 2, 145 3-146 1.) Separation case of la Marquise de Mézières [1775]. Reprinted
in Vissière, ed. Procès des femmes au temps des philosophes ou la violence masculine au XVIIIe siècle. Paris: des femmes, 1985, pp. 225-46 [21 p.] & notes, pp.
378-90. [Total pages to read: 70.]


DISCUSS PROSPECTUS.

Class 12: Trouille, "Conflicting Views of Marriage and Spousal Abuse in Pre-Revolutionary France." [30 p.] (in packet)
NOTE: Read Trouille's article before reading case.

Desessarts, Causes célèbres, v. 105, Cause 341, pp. 23-126. Separation case of Jeanne F. v. sieur R. (Toulouse, 1782).
[100 p.] (in packet)
Total pages to read: 130.

Class 13: Restif de la Bretonne, Nicolas-Edme. Ingénue Saxancour ou La Femme séparée [1789]. Paris: Lattès, 1979,
27-39, 44 2-45 1, 47-72, 91 2-243, 246-53. (in packet) [195 p.].

Class 14 Causes célèbres, v. 158, Cause 577 [1787], pp. 97-207. Dame D. . . v. sieur D. Read 97-164, 183-84, 199-207
[76 p.] (in packet).

Class 15: Genlis, "L'Histoire de la Duchesse de C***," in Adèle et Théodore [1782], 79-197 (in packet) [118 p.].
Prospectus for term paper due by 3:00 PM on Thursday of Week 15.

Class 16: Mettra, Louis-François. Correspondance secrète politique et littéraire, v. 9 [1780], 426-29 (on proliferation of separation
cases; separation suit of Mme Germain) (in packet).

Cerfvol (?). Lettre du marquis de C* au comte de F* contre le divorce. Paris: Desenne, 1790. (in packet)

Cailli, Mme de. Griefs et plaintes des femmes malmariées. Paris, 1789 (in packet)
[Total pages to read: 65]
In class: Discuss texts by Cerfvol and Cailli & summary questions for weeks 9-16 (see end of syllabus).

Week 17: Term papers due by 10:00 AM Monday of Week 17.

Class 17: Final exam (Tuesday evening of Week 17)


PROSPECTUS

The purpose of the prospectus is to help you plan your paper in advance, to give your interpretation and arguments adequate time to develop, and to give you feedback on your project before you begin writing. The prospectus consists of three parts: (1) an abstract, (2) a detailed outline, and (3) a bibliography. All three parts should be TYPED and DOUBLE SPACED on separate sheets. Use of the French spell-check program is required. Computers in the department computer lab are equipped with foreign-language word processing software; spell-check capabilities and foreign-language dictionaries (including Le Robert Electronique) are available for inlab use.

For both the abstract and outline, include your name in the upper right corner and center the title of your paper above the text. Models of all three parts will be presented in class beforehand to help you prepare. Remember that the prospectus counts for 10% of your overall grade for the course, so take time to do a good job!

Abstract

Use the ideas you have generated to write two paragraphs summarizing your paper. The first paragraph will serve as the
working draft of your introduction and the second paragraph will present your preliminary conclusions. The abstract should run at least 400 words, but no more than 700 words in length. Center the title of your paper above the text.

Your title should give the reader a clear sense of your topic, the text(s) you plan to examine, and the names of their authors. Itshould be descriptive, yet "catchy" enough to capture the reader's interest. Do not underline your title, but do underline (or italicize) the titles of novels, plays, or films that you discuss. The titles of journal articles, essays, chapters, short stories (such as Diderot's "Madame de la Carlière"), and novellas (such as Genlis's "Histoire de la Duchesse de C*") should be set off with double quotation marks, but not underlined or italicized. Follow the models presented in class and in the syllabus.

Outline

Prepare a detailed outline using either topic or sentence format following the models presented in class. (Either format is acceptable, so long as you use it consistently.) The outline should be typed, double spaced, and properly formatted, using roman numerals, capital letters, Arabic numerals, etc. It should run one and half to three pages in length. Remember that a sentence outline uses complete sentences with periods at the end throughout, while a topic outline does not. (The best topic outlines generally use nouns, rather than verbal forms, with parallel structures within the same section.) Remember to center the title of your paper above the text. Do not include quotations or page references in a formal outline.

Outline all the main points you wish to make in the order you plan to make them. A well-crafted outline will help you organize your arguments in a coherent, effective manner and can serve as the framework for the body of your paper.

Bibliography

The bibliography should list the primary texts as well as the critical and historical studies you plan to use. Undergraduates will be expected to read at least one critical study of the fictional work chosen (in addition to any studies read for class) and one pertinent study of the social or legal history of the period (in addition to those read for class). Graduate students will be expected to read at least two critical studies of the fictional work chosen (in addition to any studies read for class) and one pertinent study of the social or legal history of the period (in addition to those read for class). Remember that if you list a critical study in the final bibliography, you must respond to it in your paper.

Give complete publication information for each title, following the models presented in class and in the bibliography for the course. You may also wish to consult the MLA Handbook. Copies of the Handbook can be found in the reference section at the university library or at the bookstores.

 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

In order to draw comparisons among texts of different periods and genres and to trace the evolution of social structures and attitudes over the course of the century, the same set of questions were used for each of the primary texts. Below is an English translation of those questions, which were handed out and discussed in French:

1. Genre and voice: What kind of text is involved: essay, treatise, judicial memoirs, personal memoirs, short story, novel
(autobiographical, biographical, or purely fictional)? How does the form of expression (choice of genre and voice) affect the tone, substance, and effectiveness of the message? For example, what are the advantages and disadvantages of expressing one's views in a work of fiction as opposed to a work of non-fiction (such as an essay or judicial memoir)? Is a first-person narrative more effective than a third-person narrative and, if so, why?

2. Context: In what time period and locale(s) does the story take place? Are the husband and wife from the same socio-economic class or from different milieus? Describe their socio-economic and family background(s). What do they each bring to the marriage in terms of financial assets? How do their social origins and financial assets influence their relations and the success (or failure) of the marriage?

3. Characters: Describe the main characters (the spouses and the other key characters in their story). Describe the circumstances and motivations behind the marriage. Did their parents and friends approve of the match? Why or why not? Was it an arranged marriage? A forced marriage? What character traits and what circumstances predisposed the couple to problems in their marriage?

4. Conflicts: What are the sources of tension in this marriage? How are these tensions expressed? Who is at fault? In your opinion, are the problems due entirely to one spouse or the other or are they equally responsible for the conflicts in the marriage? Is there a possible solution to these problems? Why or why not?

5. Violence: If violence is involved, what form(s) does it take? How often and how severe is the violent behavior and how soon after the marriage does it begin? What specifically provokes the violence? What are its consequences? Does anyone intervene to try to stop the violence? Is their intervention successful in stopping the violent behavior or in reducing its severity?

6. Point of view: From whose point of view is the narrative presented? Is the narrative told in the first or third person? To whom is the narrative addressed? Is the addressee (audience) fictitious or real? What motives-reformist, reactionary, sensationalist, vindicatory-prompted the author to write and publish his or her account? In presenting his or her story, does the narrator/author seem to have polemical and reformist goals in mind, or is the story told for strictly personal reasons? What reforms (if any) are proposed? Is the view of marriage presented prescriptive or descriptive, idealized or realistic?

7. Tone: What tone(s) does the author adopt (tragic, comic, melodramatic, satirical, sarcastic, matter-of-fact)? How does this choice of tone(s) reflect the author's point of view and motives? How does the choice of tone(s) affect the impact of the narrative on the audience? Give specific examples to support your answer.

8. Rhetoric: What arguments do the spouses and their lawyers or other advocates present against each other? Are these arguments well structured and presented in a convincing manner? Why or why not? What rhetorical strategies are used? (Give at least three examples.) If we are dealing with a separation or divorce suit, what legal precedents do the two sides cite to support their case? (Give at least one example for each side.)

9. If the couple has children, do they play an important role in the story's outcome? As readers two centuries later, are we surprised by the children's importance-or lack thereof-in the couple's marital problems and in the separation cases? Do the children tend to play a more important role in the fictional works than in the judicial memoirs and personal memoirs? What does this difference suggest concerning the social or sentimental function of literature?

10. Reaction of family circle and magistrates: How does the couple's family circle-relatives, friends, neighbors, servants-react to their marital problems? What decision do the judges reach (if the couple files for separation)? Do you agree with the family circle's response and (in the case of a separation case) with the magistrate's decision? Why or why not?

11. Institutional problems: What does this couple's story reveal about the problems underlying the institution of marriage in eighteenth-century France-in the prevailing laws, customs, social structures, and attitudes? Based on the texts we have read thus far, what changes and evolution do we see in the social and judicial structures and in the attitudes concerning marital conflicts and domestic violence?

Questions for Summary Discussion of Texts Read Weeks 1-8

1. Compare the Wolmars' marriage to that of M. and Mme de Montbrillant. To what extent can we consider Louise d'Epinay's novel Histoire de Madame de Montbrillant as a response-and challenge-to the ideal of companionate marriage advocated by Rousseau in Julie, ou la Nouvelle Héloïse? What do the stories of these two couples reveal about the problems underlying the institution of marriage in eighteenth-century France-in the prevailing laws, customs, social structures, and attitudes?

2. Compare the Bomprés' marriage to that of the Henleys. How does Isabelle de Charrière's Lettres de Mistress Henley respond to-and challenge-the view of marriage presented in Samuel Constant's Mari Sentimental? What do the stories of these two couples (the Bomprés and Henleys) reveal about the problems underlying the institution of marriage in the eighteenth century-in the prevailing laws, customs, social structures, and attitudes?

3. Compare Mme de Sancerre's marriage to that of Mme de la Carlière. Describe the motivations and circumstances behind the two marriages. Was there anything unusual about those circumstances and motivations? Were they arranged marriages? Forced marriages? What character traits and what circumstances predisposed the couples to conjugal problems? What are the sources of tension in these marriages and how are they expressed? In your opinion, are the problems due entirely to one spouse or the other or are they equally responsible for the conflicts in the marriage? Is there a possible solution to these problems? Why or why not? How does the couple's family circle-relatives, friends, neighbors, servants-react to their marital problems? Is their reaction justified? Finally, can we see these works as cautionary tales? If so, what lessons do they teach?

Questions for Summary Discussion of Texts Read Weeks 9-16

1. What arguments in favor of divorce are presented in the texts by Cailli and Cerfvol? How does Cerfvol play with tone and point of view to strengthen his arguments? Which of these two texts do you find more persuasive and why? What are the advantages and disadvantages of expressing one's views in a work of fiction rather than in essay form? Give specific examples to support your answer.

2. Compare the Marquis de C's treatment of his wife with the behavior of Collet toward his wife (the Marquise de Mézières), that of sieur D. toward his wife (la Dame D.), and of M. Germain toward his wife (in the case reported by Mettra, pp. 428-29). What parallels do you see in the motives that led these four men to marry? Compare the accusations of spousal abuse made by the four wives. What do these couples' stories reveal about the problems underlying the institution of marriage in eighteenth-century France-in the prevailing laws, customs, social structures, and attitudes? How does the plight of these wives demonstrate the inadequacy of existing separation laws and the need for the legalization of divorce?

3. Compare the marriages of Ingénue Saxancour (heroine of Restif de la Bretonne's novel) with that of the Duchesse de C* (heroine of the tale embedded in Mme de Genlis's novel Adèle et Théodore.) Describe the motivations and circumstances behind the two marriages. Was there anything unusual about those circumstances and motivations? Were they arranged marriages? Forced marriages? What character traits and what circumstances predisposed the couples to conjugal problems? What are the sources of tension in these marriages and how are they expressed? In your opinion, are the problems due entirely to one spouse or the other or are they equally responsible for the conflicts in the marriage? Is there a possible solution to these problems? Why or why not? How does the couple's family circle-relatives, friends, neighbors, servants-react to their marital problems? Is their reaction justified? Finally, can we see these works as cautionary tales? If so, what lessons do they teach?
4. Based on the texts we have read this semester, what changes and evolution do we see in the social and judicial structures and in the attitudes concerning marital conflicts?

 

 

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