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Title: Men, masculinity and the female rebel in French women's fiction, 1900-1913
Author: Stone, Lucy
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis examines representations of men and constructions of masculinity in eight female-authored French novels published between 1900 and 1913: Rachilde's La Jongleuse (1900), Marcelle Tinayre's La Maison du péché (1902), Colette Yver's Les Cervelines (1903), Gabrielle Réval's Le Ruban de Vénus (1906), Jeanne Marni's Pierre Tisserand (1907), Daniel Lesueur's Nietzschéenne (1908), Lucie Delarue-Mardrus's Douce moitié (1913) and Colette's L'Entrave (1913). It approaches the issues of men and masculinity by analysing male characters' relationships and interactions with female protagonists engaged in forms of rebellion against prevailing feminine norms. The study explores women's fiction produced in a period that has frequently been considered as one of significant upheaval or change in gender relations in French society. This era saw the emergence of increasingly prominent groups of women - feminists, New Women, female doctors and lawyers - whose lives and activities challenged bourgeois or liberal gender norms. According to many historical accounts, this era also saw a crisis of masculinity among French men. Rebellious, transgressive or 'new' women figure, in such accounts, as a grave threat to masculine supremacy, eliciting fears among men of a radical inversion of the gender order and the subjugation and/or feminization of the hitherto dominant male sex. Taking such cultural narratives as a backdrop for its investigation, this thesis seeks to map out the ways in which women writers of the period imagined the effects and implications of these kinds of female rebellion for men's lives and gender identities. Connecting the readings contained in this thesis is the proposition that, in these novels, rebellious female protagonists are called upon to endorse and uphold the desirability and necessity of masterful, authoritative masculinities as performed in public contexts and in heterosexual relationships. Rather than staging women's attack on the bases of male supremacy, the novels point to the intractable linkage of maleness and power and, crucially, to the ways in which even those female subjects who problematize conventional scripts of femininity are shaped to invest in ideals of dominant masculinity. Female protagonists' complicity in upholding powerful masculinities takes two main forms in the novels analysed in this study. It is manifest, first, in rescue and mentorship plots in which women assist and encourage struggling male characters to approximate to more heroic or masterful masculinities. Female competence and talent are, in these narratives, yoked to the cause of the male subject in a way that reinforces his claims to power and centrality. Second, the thesis identifies instances in which the closure of the narrative of female revolt emerges as the necessary condition for men's performance of powerful masculinities, particularly where these masculinities are performed through men's control of the female body in heterosexual relationships. In these cases, the female subject is, in various ways, enjoined to acquiesce in her subordination and to endorse masculine power.
Supervisor: Place Verghnes- Wood, Floriane Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available