Review by Choice Review
In his seminal 1981 Housewife or Harlot (CH, Dec'81) McMillan provided a framework that sparked scholarly debates and inspired research for two decades. With this study, McMillan again demonstrates a masterful grasp, both in his ability to place his study of women within the broader context of French history and in his ability to synthesize the often fragmentary and discordant evidence and arguments of other scholars. The author traces the evolving discourses surrounding gender, civil rights, family, and labor from the Enlightenment through the Revolution and the 19th century to the eve of the Great War. Noting the strong feminist traditions throughout this era, McMillan attributes the apparent failures of French feminism to achieve full political rights after WW I to the broader political and social contexts that compelled feminists to place the stability of the Republic above the struggle for the vote. McMillan has included an extensive bibliography to both the primary sources and secondary literature. This study will prove a useful text for advanced undergraduate and graduate students, and researchers will discover in McMillan a treasure trove of topics for deeper investigation. F. Burkhard; University of Maryland University College
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.