2011-2012 is proving to be an interesting period for 18th century France related publications so far - new books on everything from cooks to the revolutionary opera to Welsh ballads! I have definitely found a few works I'm planning to read in 2012, and I hope you will as well. The books are organized by release date, and the descriptions are all from Amazon.com
The Expert Cook in Enlightenment France (The Johns Hopkins University Studies in Historical and Political Science) by Sean Takats
Release Date: November 24, 2011
In the eighteenth-century French household, the servant cook held a special place of importance, providing daily meals and managing the kitchen and its finances. In this scrupulously researched and witty history, Sean Takats examines the lives of these cooks as they sought to improve their position in society and reinvent themselves as expert, skilled professionals.
Much has been written about the cuisine of the period, but Takats takes readers down into the kitchen and introduces them to the men and women behind the food. It is only in that way, Takats argues, that we can fully recover the scientific and cultural significance of the meals they created, and, more important, the contributions of ordinary workers to eighteenth-century intellectual life. He shows how cooks, along with decorators, architects, and fashion merchants, drove France's consumer revolution, and how cooks' knowledge about a healthy diet and the medicinal properties of food advanced their professional status by capitalizing on the Enlightenment's new concern for bodily and material happiness.
Citoyennes: Women and the Ideal of Citizenship in Eighteenth-Century France by Annie K. Smart
Release Date: December 16, 2011
Contemporary critics have theorized that the eighteenth-century ideal of the Republic intentionally excluded women from the public sphere. According to this perspective, a discourse of “Rousseauean” domestic motherhood stripped women of an active civic identity, and limited their role to breastfeeding and childcare. Eighteenth-century France marked thus the division between a male public sphere of political action and a female private sphere of the home.
Citoyennes challenges this position and offers an alternative model of female identity. This interdisciplinary study brings together a variety of genres to demonstrate convincingly that women were portrayed as civic individuals. Using foundational texts such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Emile, or on Education (1762), revolutionary gouaches of Lesueur, and vaudeville plays of Year II of the Republic (1793/1794), this study brilliantly shows that in text and image, women were represented as devoted to both the public good and their families.
Citoyennes breaks new ground, for it both rectifies the ideal of domestic Rousseauean motherhood, and brings a fuller understanding to how female civic identity operated in important French texts and images.
The Perfect Foil: Francois-Andre Vincent and the Revolution in French Painting by Elizabeth C. Mansfield
Release Date: December 22, 2011
Art history is haunted by the foil: the dark star whose diminished luster sets off another’s brilliance. Relegated to this role by modern historians of Revolutionary-era French art, François-André Vincent (1746–1816) is chiefly viewed in the reflection of his contemporary, Jacques-Louis David. The Perfect Foil frees Vincent from this distorting mirror. Offering a nuanced and historically accurate account of Vincent’s life and work, Elizabeth C. Mansfield reveals the artist’s profound influence on the visual culture of the French Revolution—and, paradoxically, on the art historical narrative that would consign him to obscurity.
By giving us a detailed and faithful portrait of this artist poised at the turning point of history, Mansfield restores a critically important body of work to its rightful place in the story of French art and reorients Revolutionary-era French art history toward a broader, more inclusive understanding of the period.
The Reign of Terror in America: Visions of Violence from Anti-Jacobinism to Antislavery by Rachel Hope Cleves [New Paperback Edition]
Release Date: January 12, 2012
When the French Revolution degenerated into violent factionalism and civil war during the early 1790s, American conservative northeasterners reacted in profound terror. Alarmed by the possibility that the United States would follow her "sister republic" into chaos and civic bloodshed, northern Federalists and their Congregationalist allies reacted by aggressively attacking the violence of the French Revolution and its supposed American votaries. The Reign of Terror in America argues that American fears of the violence of the French Revolution led to antislavery, antiwar, and public education movements in the nineteenth-century United States. It is the first history of how Americans perceived the Reign of Terror, and reveals how significantly fears of French Violence changed the United States. Ultimately, these fears inspired a stark opposition to the violence of slaveholding, provided material for dramatic attacks on southern slavery, and helped to spark the Civil War.
Bastards: Politics, Family, and Law in Early Modern France by Matthew Gerber
Release Date: January 16, 2012
Children born out of wedlock were commonly stigmatized as "bastards" in early modern France. Deprived of inheritance, they were said to have neither kin nor kind, neither family nor nation. Why was this the case? Gentler alternatives to "bastard" existed in early modern French discourse, and many natural parents voluntarily recognized and cared for their extramarital offspring.
Drawing upon a wide array of archival and published sources, Matthew Gerber has reconstructed numerous disputes over the rights and disabilities of children born out of wedlock in order to illuminate the changing legal condition and practical treatment of extramarital offspring over a period of two and half centuries. Gerber's study reveals that the exclusion of children born out of wedlock from the family was perpetually debated. bastardy had become largely archaic.
With a cast of characters ranging from royal bastards to foundlings, Bastards explores the relationship between social and political change in the early modern era, offering new insight into the changing nature of early modern French law and its evolving contribution to the historical construction of both the family and the state.
A New Dictionary of the French Revolution by Richard Ballard
Release Date: January 17, 2012
The French Revolution was a huge, brutal yet inspiring phenomenon that changed global political thinking and action, and its echoes resound even in the twenty-first century. It was an intensely complex mix of events, concepts and individuals and 'The New Dictionary' is an invaluable aid to unravelling its complications, and an essential companion for students and general readers alike. There are over 400 entries covering the main events, personalities, parties, ideologies, political ideas, philosophers, writers, artists, rebellions and wars, as well as touching on colonial and international developments, the interaction of church and state, science, law reform, events in the provinces and overseas territories and the reverberations in other European states. The Dictionary provides a full and vibrant history from the outbreak of revolution in 1789 to the Terror, the Revolutionary state, its wars and the rise of Napoleon. Entries contain much more than just bare factual information: they provide a detailed commentary and include suggestions for further reading - both in print and online - which reference the extensive literature of over 200 years of scholarship and the latest historiography. Cross-referencing is extensive and the index provides reference to minor but important subjects contained in main entries.
Royal Censorship of Books in Eighteenth-Century France by Raymond Birn
Release Date: February 1, 2012
Today, we are inclined to believe that intellectual freedom has no greater adversary than the censor. In eighteenth-century France, the matter was more complicated. Royal censors envisioned themselves not as fulfilling a mission of state-sponsored repression but rather as guiding the literary traffic of the Enlightenment. By awarding pre-publication and pre-distribution approvals, royal censors sought to insulate authors and publishers from the scandal of post-publication condemnation by parliaments, the police, or the Church. Less official authorizations were also awarded. Though censors did delete words and phrases from manuscripts and sometimes rejected manuscripts altogether, the liberal use of tacit permissions and conditional approvals resulted in the publication and circulation of books that, under a less flexible system, might never have seen the light of day. In essence, eighteenth-century French censors served as cultural intermediaries who bore responsibility for expanding public awareness of the progressive thought of their time.
Staging the French Revolution: Cultural Politics and the Paris Opera, 1789-1794 by Mark Darlow
Release Date: February 27, 2012
Over the last decade, the theatre and opera of the French Revolution have been the subject of intense scholarly reassessment, both in terms of the relationship between theatrical works and politics or ideology in this period and on the question of longer-scale structures of continuity or rupture in aesthetics. Staging the French Revolution: Cultural Politics and the Paris Opera, 1789-1794 moves these discussions boldly forward, focusing on the Paris Opéra (Académie Royale de Musique) in the cultural and political context of the early French Revolution. Both institutional history and cultural study, this is the first ever full-scale study of the Revolution and lyric theatre. The book concentrates on three aspects of how a royally-protected theatre negotiates the transition to national theatre: the external dimension, such as questions of ownership and governance and the institution's relationship with State institutions and popular assemblies; the internal management, finances, selection and preparation of works; and the cultural and aesthetic study of the works themselves and of their reception.
Robespierre: A Revolutionary Life by Peter McPhee
Release Date: February 28, 2012
For some historians and biographers, Maximilien Robespierre (1758–94) was a great revolutionary martyr who succeeded in leading the French Republic to safety in the face of overwhelming military odds. For many others, he was the first modern dictator, a fanatic who instigated the murderous Reign of Terror in 1793–94. This masterful biography combines new research into Robespierre's dramatic life with a deep understanding of society and the politics of the French Revolution to arrive at a fresh understanding of the man, his passions, and his tragic shortcomings.
Peter McPhee gives special attention to Robespierre's formative years and the development of an iron will in a frail boy conceived outside wedlock and on the margins of polite provincial society. Exploring how these experiences formed the young lawyer who arrived in Versailles in 1789, the author discovers not the cold, obsessive Robespierre of legend, but a man of passion with close but platonic friendships with women. Soon immersed in revolutionary conflict, he suffered increasingly lengthy periods of nervous collapse correlating with moments of political crisis, yet Robespierre was tragically unable to step away from the crushing burdens of leadership. Did his ruthless, uncompromising exercise of power reflect a descent into madness in his final year of life? McPhee reevaluates the ideology and reality of "the Terror," what Robespierre intended, and whether it represented an abandonment or a reversal of his early liberalism and sense of justice.
Welsh Ballads of the French Revolution by Ffion Mair Jones
Release Date: April 15, 2012
Welsh Ballads of the French Revolution provides for the first time an edition, with parallel English translations, of Welsh-language ballads composed in reaction to the momentous events of the Revolution in France and the two decades of war which followed. Ballad writers were first spurred to respond in 1793, when the French monarchs were executed, France declared war upon Britain, and paranoia regarding the possible threat of internal revolt in Britain reached a crisis point. As the decade proceeded, ballads were sung in thanks for the victory of British forces and local people against an invasion of Pembrokeshire by French troops, and in reaction to key naval battles and to the extensive mobilization of militia and volunteer forces. Scholars working on the British response to the Revolution have showed increasing interest in exploring the contents of ballads and songs. The ballad in particular is seen as a vital source of information, since it represents ordinary people's awareness of the developments of the period. Balladry is also subject to continued research within Welsh scholarship, and this volume, with its focus on a clearly defined historical period and its revelation of new voices within the canon of Welsh ballad writers, will drive this field of study forwards. Regional reactions to the Revolution within the British Isles are also now seen as crucially important, but Wales, partly because of the inaccessibility of material composed in the Welsh language, has repeatedly been omitted from the general picture. This volume aids in rectifying this situation, ensuring (by use of translation, copious contextualizing notes, and a lengthy introduction) that both the ballad genre and Welsh reactions receive the attention they deserve from the wider scholarly community.
JEAN PAUL MARAT: Tribune of the French Revolution (Revolutionary Lives) by Clifford Connor
Release Date: May 22, 2012
Jean-Paul Marat's role in the French Revolution has long been a matter of controversy among historians. Often he has been portrayed as a violent, sociopathic demagogue. This biography challenges that interpretation and argues that without Marat's contributions as an agitator, tactician, and strategist, the pivotal social transformation that the Revolution accomplished might well not have occurred. Clifford D. Conner argues that what was unique about Marat - which set him apart from all other major figures of the Revolution, including Danton and Robespierre - was his total identification with the struggle of the propertyless classes for social equality. This is an essential book for anyone interested in the history of the revolutionary period and the personalities that led it.
Making Way for Genius: The Aspiring Self in France from the Old Regime to the New by Kathleen Kete
Release Date: May 29, 2012
Examining the lives and works of three iconic personalities —Germaine de Staël, Stendhal, and Georges Cuvier—Kathleen Kete creates a groundbreaking cultural history of ambition in post-Revolutionary France. While in the old regime the traditionalist view of ambition prevailed—that is, ambition as morally wrong unless subsumed into a corporate whole—the new regime was marked by a rising tide of competitive individualism. Greater opportunities for personal advancement, however, were shadowed by lingering doubts about the moral value of ambition.
Kete identifies three strategies used to overcome the ethical “burden” of ambition: romantic genius (Staël), secular vocation (Stendhal), and post-mythic destiny (Cuvier). In each case, success would seem to be driven by forces outside one’s control. She concludes by examining the still relevant (and still unresolved) conundrum of the relationship of individual desires to community needs, which she identifies as a defining characteristic of the modern world.