Unruly Women of Paris: Images of the Commune

Unruly Women of Paris: Images of the Commune

Unruly Women of Paris: Images of the Commune

Unruly Women of Paris: Images of the Commune

Synopsis

This book analyzes the representations of women who were part of the insurrection known as the Paris Commune. the uprising and its bloody suppression by the French army is still one of the most hotly debated episodes in modern history.

Excerpt

If I believed in fate, I would believe I was destined to write this book. When I discovered the Commune in graduate school (I made this discovery late since I was not a history major), I was fascinated by it. It did not occur to me, however, that I might write on the Commune. It was, after all, the early 1970s and a wealth of books and articles had just appeared for the centennial celebrations of the Commune's short life.

But the Commune continued to appear in my life. When I was interviewing for my first job teaching history, the University of Louisville asked me (and all the other job candidates) to give a lecture on the Commune. Later, when I was teaching at Skidmore College, I used accounts of the Commune to introduce my students to the politics of history. Finally, in the summer of 1985, while I was working on another topic, I requested a journal at the Bibliothèque Historique de la Ville de Paris, the title of which I have long since forgotten. The issue I had requested was at the end of that journal's run, and it was bound with the first two issues of a journal on the history of medicine. Thumbing through the second journal, I came across an article on Georges Clemenceau, who was a physician as well as a statesman. Illustrating the article was a picture of Louise Michel, the Red Virgin of the Commune. Suddenly I knew I wanted to study the Commune. I dashed across the reading room to ask Joan Scott, who was also working there, if she knew of anyone who was working on the women of the Paris Commune. She said no, and, whether it was serendipity or fate, I was launched on ten years of research and writing.

As I worked on this book, it changed shape and focus. It began as a so-

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