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Women of the Enlightenment


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  • do you have any references to the quotes by diderot?
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Women of the Enlightenment

  1. 1. Women and the Enlightenment
  2. 2. Perceptions of Women • There were other feminists prior to the Enlightenment, but not many • Feminism began to gain momentum in the Age of Enlightenment. • Why?? 1. Notions of rationalism & tolerance 2. Print culture
  3. 3. Montesquieu • Supported equality for women in society and was sympathetic to the obstacles they faced (The Persian Letters) • However, he held traditional beliefs as to a man’s dominance in marriage and family
  4. 4. Rousseau’s “Emile” (1762) • Men and women occupy separate spheres Worldly Sphere = Men Domestic Sphere = Women
  5. 5. Rousseau (cont.) • Women should be educated to be subordinate to men – there is little else for a woman to do but make herself pleasing to men
  6. 6. Rousseau (cont.) • A woman’s purpose was to bear and raise children • Weaker/inferior to men EXCEPT in their capacity for feeling and giving love • No political rights
  7. 7. On the Bright Side… • Portrayed the role of being a wife and mother as fulfilling and noble • This gave the women of the nobility and middle class a sense of purpose
  8. 8. What I Think of Rousseau… Tomb of JJ Rousseau, Panthéon, Paris
  9. 9. Diderot & The Encyclopedia • Published men almost exclusively • Articles that dealt with women often emphasized their physical weakness and inferiority, usually attributed to menstruation or childbirth
  10. 10. Diderot (cont.) • Women were reared to be frivolous and unconcerned with important issues • Motherhood = most important occupation • Double standard on sexual behavior • Overall, the contributors disagreed on the social equality of women
  11. 11. (Some) Notable Women of the Enlightenment
  12. 12. Mary Wollstonecraft • Mother of the feminist movement • Born in London, England, Mary became interested in becoming educated at an early age
  13. 13. Wollstonecraft (cont.) • She sought personal liberty and economic independence • Her first book, A Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792) caused much controversy because she stated that men and women were created equal, but women received less education
  14. 14. A Vindication of the Rights of Women • Celebrates the rationality of women • Attacks the view of female education put forward by Rousseau and countless others who regarded women as weak and artificial and not capable of reasoning effectively
  15. 15. Vindication (cont.) • Rejects the education in dependency that Rousseau advocated for them in Emile • A woman must be intelligent in her own right, as she cannot assume that her husband will be intelligent!
  16. 16. Vindication (cont.) • Maintained that this did not contradict the role of the woman as a mother or the role of the woman in the home • Said that “…meek wives are, in general, foolish mothers.”
  17. 17. Wollstonecraft (cont.) • Both men and women criticized her and her books • In later writings, she sharply criticizes the conditions in which women (especially poor women) lived
  18. 18. Controversy • She caused further controversy when she chose not to marry the father of her first daughter • She did eventually marry William Godwin, another English philosophe • Sadly, she died days after giving birth to their daughter, Mary Shelley (future author of the book Frankenstein)
  19. 19. Salons
  20. 20. Salons • Pleasure was not the objective of the Enlightenment salons • The philosophes that had rejected the academy and the university as their institutional bases for their work turned to the Parisian salons to continue their conversations and practices
  21. 21. Salons (cont.) • The salonnières served to listen attentively to the philosophes and fill in during the silences of the conversation, if needed • A main purpose of the salons of Paris for the salonnières during the Enlightenment was to satisfy the self- determined educational needs of the women who started them
  22. 22. Salons (cont.) • For the salonnières, the salon was a socially acceptable substitute for the formal education denied them
  23. 23. Salon Bleu – Louis XV
  24. 24. Salon Jaune
  25. 25. Marie -Therese Geoffrin • To many, her salon was the premier salon of the day • At a young age, she was orphaned and at fourteen was married off to the wealthy director of the royal glassworks at Saint- Gobain
  26. 26. Geoffrin (cont.) • In her twenties, she began apprenticing at the salon of her neighbor, Madame de Tencin
  27. 27. Geoffrin (cont.) • Two innovations Geoffrin contributed to the salon: 1. Switched the traditional late night dinner to a 1:00 dinner to fallow for an entire afternoon of conversation 2. Created a regular, weekly salon dinner schedule, with Monday assigned to the artists, Wednesday for the men of letters, and so forth
  28. 28. Geoffrin (cont.) • Mme. Geoffrin was so popular because she was a wonderful, attentive listener • She knew how to make other people talk their best. She knew just when to say her piece or ask a question
  29. 29. Geoffrin (cont.) • Mme. G was a very generous woman as she was quite wealthy and willing to share • She often helped young authors struggling to make ends meet and on Sundays she didn’t open her salon. Instead she put together large sums of money in little bags to distribute among the poor
  30. 30. Madame Geoffrin’s Salon
  31. 31. Bust of Voltaire
  32. 32. Marquise de Pompadour • Began visiting the court of King Louis XV at Versailles • After their first meeting, he instantly admired her beauty and skill • He enjoyed watching her perform in plays at her own theater (Etoilles Estate)
  33. 33. Pompadour (cont.) • In 1744, she was installed at court as Louis XV’s “official favorite” under the title of Marquise de Pompadour • She had a profound effect over the private life of the court
  34. 34. Pompadour’s Effects • Organized suppers and brought many performances to the theater • Brought back the sense of intimacy and extravagance that the French court had lost
  35. 35. Pompadour’s Effects (cont.) • Commissioned artists such as the writer Voltaire and the painter François Boucher • Encouraged the manufacture of porcelain and decorated the palace of Versailles in the Rococo manner
  36. 36. Pompadour (cont.) • Pompadour was mistress to the king for only five (5) years • On Oct. 12, 1752, the King made her a duchess; the greatest favor he could bestow upon her
  37. 37. Pompadour (cont.) • When France was on the verge of a major war with England she played a major role in influencing the Diplomatic Revolution (the treaty that allied France with her former enemy Austria)
  38. 38. Pompadour (cont.) • She also demonstrated her power and influence over the King in the way she was capable of removing her enemies from office and enabling her friends to come into government
  39. 39. Pompadour (cont.) • All of these proved to be disastrous to France, and led to the unpopularity of the Marquise • She was hated and blamed for all of the misfortunes that fell upon France
  40. 40. The Pompadour • Eventually, though, a really snazzy hair style would be named after her so at least she had that going for her…