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Seth, French women's memoirs

I plan to study the case of French women’s memoirs in the long 18th Century.

Essential memoirs were published in the 18th century. They show women gaining access to publication. No large-scale study has ever been undertaken of this essential stage in the development of female autobiographical writing.

The project includes stock-taking of published and manuscript autobiographical texts by women. It will include an attempt to evaluate generic differences. It will try to ascertain whether there is a “democratization” of autobiographical writing by women as the century advances. It will include consideration of the relative importance of the public and private spheres in such texts. It will attempt to understand the audience of such works, particularly in the case of unpublished writings. It will undertake to assess the importance of the French Revolution in
a) encouraging aristocrats, exiles… to write their memoirs of a disappearing world, and
b) in giving voice to those for whom the public arena was previously inaccessible.

In order to reach its goals, this project requires collaboration with colleagues working on autobiographical texts during different periods and in other national/linguistic areas.
One of the aims of the project is to publish a series of the texts under consideration.

SvD, April 2008

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