Depiction and Description of the Female Body in Nineteenth-Century French Art, Literature, and Society: Women in the Parks of Paris, 1848-1900

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This book is a groundbreaking and illuminating study of nineteenth-century Paris, its art, culture, and the history of gender and urban space. Sinéad Furlong-Clancy’s choice of the public park as frame for the analysis of images of women in the city is a departure from existing art, cultural-material and literary histories and connects the disciplines of art history, literature, fashion history, urban history, garden history, nineteenth-century French studies, and gender studies.


“Access to the rich material of the study is made easy by the lucid and yet comprehensive account of the various factors at work in the foregrounding of the female body in nineteenth-century French cultural life, both within the tangible urban and social sphere and in literature and painting…[it] provides and extremely original and valuable contribution to our understanding of the representation of women in mid-nineteenth-century France and an unending source of visual and literary pleasure and insight.”
-Professor David Scott,
Textual and Visual Studies,
Trinity College Dublin

“Dr. Clancy’s work is a compelling and important addition to nineteenth-century French studies. Her contribution is original in scope and depth, as the representation of women in nineteenth-century French parks is by no means specific to this particular locale or even its time frame. In her sweeping study, Sinead Clancy demonstrates that the image of the park is in fact an oppressive construct and a classic illustration of the objectification of women in Western culture, which has managed to survive to this day, unrestricted by social norms or limitations in time and space. This study artfully bridges aesthetics and the sociology of gender with the historical progression of the systematic objectification of women. It constitutes a solid scholarly addition to French literature, sociology and art history.”
-Dr. Eric du Plessis,
Department of Foreign Languages & Literatures,
Radford University

“A well-researched, well-written and well-argued study, containing much original material and some very perceptive readings of a wide range of works in both literature and the visual arts of the period. It examines the representation of women in public parks in nineteenth-century Paris, in an effort to analyse the ways in which this encoded – and sometimes subverted – social structures and relations.”
-Professor Michèle Hannoosh,
Department of Romance Languages and Literatures,
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Tables
List of Abbreviations
Foreword by David Scott
1. Critical Concepts; Critical Contexts: Women in the Parks of Paris:
Painting and Writing the Female Body
1.1 Painting and Writing: Depicting and Describing
1.2 Painting and Writing the Female Body
1.3 Women in Art and Women as Artists in Nineteenth-Century Paris
1.4 Representation and Phallocentric Fantasy:
1.5 Body and Space: Kristeva and Foucault
2. Spectacle and Display in Nineteenth-Century Paris
2.1 Nineteenth-Century Urbanisation
2.2 Spectacle and Display in the Public Park
3.The Female body in the Public Park
3.1 Introduction
3.2 Dressing the Female body for the Park Space
3.3 Representing the Female body in the Park Space
3.4 Undressing the Female Body:
The Roving Eye of the Flâneur / Male Artist
3.5 Returning and Resisting the Gaze:
Female Responses: Gazes of Medusae?
3.6 Conclusion
4. Romantic and Sexual encounter in the Public Park
4.1 Introduction
4.2 The Park as Site of Popular Sexual Encounter
4.3 Opportunistic Sexual Encounter in the Park
4.4 Romantic Encounter in the Park
4.5 Venal Sexual Encounter in the Park
4.6 Conclusion
5. Childhood in the Park
5.1 A Kidnapping in the Tuileries
5.2 The Park as Site of Child Development
5.3 Gender Formation in the Park: Dress, Behaviour, Observation
5.4 Childhood in the Park in painting and Literature
6. Conclusion
7. Appendices

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