Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

A Brief History of Women in Quebec

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

A Brief History of Women in Quebec

Article excerpt

Denyse Baillargeon, trans. W. Donald Wilson, A Brief History of Women in Quebec (Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2014), 284 pp. Paper. $24.99. ISBN 978-1-55458-950-0.

In A Brief History of Women in Quebec, Denyse Baillargeon offers a synthetic histor y of Franco-Canadian women from colonisation to the present day. Her purpose is to 'illuminate the historical experience of all Quebec women by bringing out the economic, social, political, and ideological forces that have shaped that experience' (p. vii).

Divided into eight chapters, the text moves chronologically through the colonial period, nineteenth-centur y industrialisation, interwar modernit y, postwar transformations, second-wave feminism, and neoliberal society. Within these chapters, six key themes are tightly woven: domestic work and employment, demographics, education, religion, law, and the social and political activities of women. These themes are crucial in carrying the narrative successfully across chapters and promote a cohesive reading. Baillargeon is careful to note the limitations of her approach, recognising both that using a geographical framework is unconventional given the timeframe and that the scope of her material means that no topic can be fully explored.

In organising the narrative in this way, the text achieves three aims. First, Baillargeon dispels myths of gendered histories in Quebec. The text does an excellent job of disproving commonly held assumptions about Quebec being a matriarchal society, and the fallacy of separate sphere ideologies. Her second aim is to prove that Quebec's history is a product of an intimate relationship between Roman Catholicism and French nationalism. …

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