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Products for grant FZ-256516-17

FZ-256516-17
Three Women Writers Who Lived as Men: Jane Dieulafoy (1850-1916), Marc de Montifaud (1849-1913), and Rachilde (1860-1953)
Rachel Mesch, Yeshiva University

Grant details: https://securegrants.neh.gov/publicquery/main.aspx?f=1&gn=FZ-256516-17

The Slap: Marc de Montifaud, Gender, and the Nineteenth-Century News Cycle (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: The Slap: Marc de Montifaud, Gender, and the Nineteenth-Century News Cycle
Author: Rachel Mesch
Abstract: In September, 1882, a piece of fiction entitled “Madame de Sade” appeared on the front pages of Le Figaro. In the story, the young writer Valérie Milotte is sentenced to three months in prison and a fine of two thousand francs because of her salacious publications. When Marc de Montifaud read “Madame de Sade” in the daily paper, she was livid. At the time, there was only one woman in France who had been relentlessly pursued by the court system for salacious writing, and that woman was her. She felt she had no choice but to take the matter into her own hands, literally: she slapped Magnard across the face with his own newspaper at the premiere of the Comédie Francaise. She was in a tailcoat and pants at the time, because—as she noted in her account—having taken on the custom of wearing men’s clothing a few years prior, she always wore the appropriate attire for the occasion.My talk will consider this episode as a unique vantage point for considering Marc de Montifaud as a nineteenth-century “gender outlaw”—to take up Kate Bornstein’s notion, which designates someone whose very identity troubles social structures, even when they have no desire to rebel or flout the law. Montifaud did not fit into the available categories for understanding challenges to gender norms in her time. As a result, she worked to make sense of herself by drawing on historical figures who had similarly defied social expectations. By considering the role of gender in her self-defense, my paper will attempt to make sense of the disconnect between Montifaud’s own proud self-image, inscribed in French history and tradition, and the scandalous reputation thrust upon her, which imagined her as a threat to those very forces.
Date: 10/27/2018
Conference Name: Nineteenth-Century French Studies


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