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The Republic of Men

Gender and the Political Parties in Interwar France

304 pages / 6.00 x 9.00 inches / 12 halftones

ebook available

West European History | French History

  Hardcover / 9780807155219 / May 2014
In The Republic of Men, Geoff Read explores the intersection of gender bias and the eight most important political parties in interwar France, breaking new scholarly ground in profound ways. The first to compare gender discourse across the political spectrum in a national context and trace the origins of the fascist “new man” in other political traditions, Read evaluates the impact of gender discourse upon policy during a pivotal period in French history.
Skillfully exploring how differing political traditions—from left to right—influenced and reacted to each other, Read shows that regardless of the party, predominant notions of gender manifested themselves in misogyny and double standards when it came to women’s emancipation. 
Despite the hostility of male politicians and party members, and despite women’s exclusion from both parliament and the vote, Read argues that women were nonetheless crucial to politics and visibly prominent within almost every political party in interwar France. Read explains this seeming contradiction by demonstrating the existence of a conservative trend in gender politics that by the mid-1930s had enveloped even the Communist Party. 
Through his masterful analysis, Read closes significant gaps in the existing historiography and presents a truly revisionist assessment of early-twentieth-century French politics.
GEOFF READ is assistant professor of history at Huron University College.

Praise for The Republic of Men

The Republic of Men is an important contribution not only to the history of gender in the Third Republic but also to broader understandings of interwar French politics. . . .The Republic of Men succeeds in being accessible without sacrificing academic rigour and analytical detail.”—French History

“Read contributes to an exciting trend in French history that examines convergences and divergences between the political left, centre, and right. . . . Republic of Men is accessible and thus useful for undergraduates and experts alike who are interested in gender, race, and politics. Most importantly, readers of the book will have no doubt that gender was at the centre of the most important political debates of interwar France.”—Canadian Journal of History

“Geoff Read is thoroughly grounded in the theoretical and historical literature on gender and in the histories of eight major political parties in the Third Republic between the wars. . . . Methodologically, The Republic of Men is impressive. Read’s mining of newspaper content beyond front page articles, encompassing obituaries, cartoons, women’s pages and sports pages, is a model for historians using newspapers as sources. . . . [Read’s] insights into the wavering and sometimes contradictory trajectories of many parties on social policies and suffrage are equally important contributions to the historiography of the Third Republic.”—Journal of Social History

“What commends the study is the treatment of a much wider swathe of the political spectrum than is commonly attempted, and the relational nature of its exploration of masculinity and femininity. Its close and systematic reading of the interwar press, with attention paid to both male and female voices, furnishes the reader with a wealth of examples of specific gendered formulations.”—European History Quarterly

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