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postgraduate thesis: Marginalized women under the spotlight : Third Republic (1870-1940) schoolmistresses portrayed in French literature

TitleMarginalized women under the spotlight : Third Republic (1870-1940) schoolmistresses portrayed in French literature
Authors
Issue Date2014
PublisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
Citation
Zhang, J. [張劍喬]. (2014). Marginalized women under the spotlight : Third Republic (1870-1940) schoolmistresses portrayed in French literature. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b5481915
AbstractJuxtaposing historical evidence with fiction, this thesis probes into the social marginalization of Third Republic schoolmistresses reflected in literary stereotypes. Despite their manifold representation in novels, the general stereotype is still predominant: a displeasing teacher in misery. Mostly secluded in provincial posts, they suffered not only from material indigence and burdensome teaching, but also from the hostility projected from their surroundings. Under these unfavorable circumstances, many took refuge in professional devotion and abnegation. However, they sometimes developed an ideal of heroism and self-sacrifice, which were comparable to nuns’ religious credos. Women teachers’ political portrait is often left out of literary representation. Because they could not even defend themselves and have their interests protected by superiors, political engagement would mean little to their secluded lives. Yet in the masculine Republic, women educators shouldered a political task of forming girls as qualified mothers and companions who embraced republican values. The Republic’s reinvention of the secular faith and the lay School manifested its inheritance of the Catholic legacy it strived to eradicate, best demonstrated by its imitation of a laicized religious discourse, epitomized in literature by institutrices’ spirit of martyrdom. Through their professional efforts, they came into the public sight and increased their political impact. With their pacifist ideal, militant teachers safeguarded the Republic as well as republican schooling. Above all, as a result of their continuous struggles, they shattered the image of domestic women by proving themselves to be independent and public, shaping the New Woman “prototypes” of the new century. The “vices” of new career women were evident, for their new professional identity contravened conventional norms of gender roles. It was the teaching career that gave them an anomalous sexual experience, by depriving them of their womanly roles as wives and mothers. The image of the embittered “vieille fille” thus became a target for demonization, which was presumably a cultural motive behind Colette’s writings. She arguably employed the image of schoolmistress as a vehicle for exposing a public polemic between traditional and modern views on gender roles, in the context of major social transformations especially in thought. Schoolmistresses are a metonymy of French republicanism: a republican experiment which conflicted with women’s traditional functions and undermined the inveterate masculinist order. Third Republic schoolmistresses underwent a metamorphosis from domestic to public as they acquired new social roles. While institutrice literature shares profound bonds with autobiographical accounts, many testimonies also suggest an inclination of being attached to and even governed by novels. Despite the fact that literature is fabricated upon a universe of stereotypes, many teachers spontaneously chose fictional texts as the representative of their professional voice, making these “republican mythologies” a collective autobiography which articulated institutrices’ individual career pathos to a broader audience.
DegreeMaster of Philosophy
SubjectWomen - Education - France - History - 19th century
Dept/ProgramModern Languages and Cultures
Persistent Identifierhttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/211121

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.authorZhang, Jianqiao-
dc.contributor.author張劍喬-
dc.date.accessioned2015-07-07T23:10:42Z-
dc.date.available2015-07-07T23:10:42Z-
dc.date.issued2014-
dc.identifier.citationZhang, J. [張劍喬]. (2014). Marginalized women under the spotlight : Third Republic (1870-1940) schoolmistresses portrayed in French literature. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b5481915-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/211121-
dc.description.abstractJuxtaposing historical evidence with fiction, this thesis probes into the social marginalization of Third Republic schoolmistresses reflected in literary stereotypes. Despite their manifold representation in novels, the general stereotype is still predominant: a displeasing teacher in misery. Mostly secluded in provincial posts, they suffered not only from material indigence and burdensome teaching, but also from the hostility projected from their surroundings. Under these unfavorable circumstances, many took refuge in professional devotion and abnegation. However, they sometimes developed an ideal of heroism and self-sacrifice, which were comparable to nuns’ religious credos. Women teachers’ political portrait is often left out of literary representation. Because they could not even defend themselves and have their interests protected by superiors, political engagement would mean little to their secluded lives. Yet in the masculine Republic, women educators shouldered a political task of forming girls as qualified mothers and companions who embraced republican values. The Republic’s reinvention of the secular faith and the lay School manifested its inheritance of the Catholic legacy it strived to eradicate, best demonstrated by its imitation of a laicized religious discourse, epitomized in literature by institutrices’ spirit of martyrdom. Through their professional efforts, they came into the public sight and increased their political impact. With their pacifist ideal, militant teachers safeguarded the Republic as well as republican schooling. Above all, as a result of their continuous struggles, they shattered the image of domestic women by proving themselves to be independent and public, shaping the New Woman “prototypes” of the new century. The “vices” of new career women were evident, for their new professional identity contravened conventional norms of gender roles. It was the teaching career that gave them an anomalous sexual experience, by depriving them of their womanly roles as wives and mothers. The image of the embittered “vieille fille” thus became a target for demonization, which was presumably a cultural motive behind Colette’s writings. She arguably employed the image of schoolmistress as a vehicle for exposing a public polemic between traditional and modern views on gender roles, in the context of major social transformations especially in thought. Schoolmistresses are a metonymy of French republicanism: a republican experiment which conflicted with women’s traditional functions and undermined the inveterate masculinist order. Third Republic schoolmistresses underwent a metamorphosis from domestic to public as they acquired new social roles. While institutrice literature shares profound bonds with autobiographical accounts, many testimonies also suggest an inclination of being attached to and even governed by novels. Despite the fact that literature is fabricated upon a universe of stereotypes, many teachers spontaneously chose fictional texts as the representative of their professional voice, making these “republican mythologies” a collective autobiography which articulated institutrices’ individual career pathos to a broader audience.-
dc.languageeng-
dc.publisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)-
dc.relation.ispartofHKU Theses Online (HKUTO)-
dc.rightsThe author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights) and the right to use in future works.-
dc.rightsCreative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License-
dc.subject.lcshWomen - Education - France - History - 19th century-
dc.titleMarginalized women under the spotlight : Third Republic (1870-1940) schoolmistresses portrayed in French literature-
dc.typePG_Thesis-
dc.identifier.hkulb5481915-
dc.description.thesisnameMaster of Philosophy-
dc.description.thesislevelMaster-
dc.description.thesisdisciplineModern Languages and Cultures-
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version-

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