Sharon Worley is an Adjunct Professor in the Arts and Humanities at the University of Houston, Downtown, and Sam Houston State University, in Huntsville, Texas. She received her Ph.D. in Aesthetics-Humanities from the University of Texas at Dallas.2012 0-7734-2583-7
In the tradition of Virginia Woolf’s “In Search of a Room of One’s Own,” this study traces the origins of French feminism to Neoclassical theatre and the court of Louis XIV. Through feminist revisionist histories of French literature, the Neoclassical plots and female archetypes from Racine’s Phedre
, Voltaire’s Brutus
(Catherine Bernard) and Marmontel’s Belisarius
(Stephanie Genlis) were transposed by women writers and patrons onto actresses and the queens, empresses and mistresses of the French ruling dynasties from Louis XIV- to Napoleon at a time when women were denied the rights of citizenship. Women authors include Bernard, Genlis, Olympe de Gouges and Germaine de Staël, among others. Arguing that emerging feminism is a function of historicism that defines female identity through parallel constructs between regency and theatre, Neoclassicism and modernity, authors of an emerging body of French feminist writings ineluctably reconcile sadist and pacifist incongruities between gendered roles in tragedy.2015 0-7734-4245-6
Worley’s book brings a new perspective on the intellectual debates in the development of nationalistic movements leading up to the Risorgimento in Italy. Her study reveals how the efforts of key feminine ideologists established the roots of Italian reunification through artistic patronage. The salons of these important women enabled daring artists to walk that fine line between creativity and treason as they politicized their art.2010 0-7734-3835-1
In 1800 Napoleon Bonaparte sought to impose an absolute political authority as First Consul for life, and emperor in 1804. A network of women authors connected with Germaine de Staël in Paris, Coppet, Berlin, and Florence maintained salons and addressed political conflicts in their novels, correspondence and theory. Nationalist histories, also written by salon members, reinforced their unified political agenda by emphasizing the heroic acts that guaranteed national freedom. Semiotics became the primary means of political propaganda and persuasion in the absence of legislative debate and women’s suffrage.