Gender and Religious Life in French Revolutionary Drama

BookGender and Religious Life in French Revolutionary Drama

Gender and Religious Life in French Revolutionary Drama

Oxford University Studies in the Enlightenment, 2018:11


November 13th, 2018

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In the final decade of the eighteenth century, theatre was amongst the most important sites for redefining France's national identity. In this study, Annelle Curulla uses a range of archival material to show that, more than any other subject matter which was once forbidden from the French stage, Roman Catholic religious life provided a crucial trope for expressing theatre's patriotic mission after 1789.
Even as old rules and customs fell with the walls of the Bastille, dramatic works by Gouges, Chénier, La Harpe, and others depicted the cloister as a space for reimagining forms of familial, individual, and civic belonging and exclusion.
By relating the dramatic trope of religious life to shifting concepts of gender, family, religiosity, and nation, Curulla sheds light on how the process of secularization played out in the cultural space of French theatre.

'As well-written as it is meticulously researched, Annelle Curulla’s excellent first book not only illustrates the scholarly significance of Revolutionary theater, it also broadens our understanding of it.'
Yann Robert, H-France Review

Author Information

Annelle Curulla is Assistant Professor of French at Scripps College, USA.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
List of illustrations9
Introduction: the cloister and the stage13
Historical context16
Approaches and sources18
1. Theatrical vocations: La Harpe’s Mélanie, ou la Religieuse (1770-1802)29
Mélanie’s instability: revisions to the text (1770-1802)32
Mélanie in the salons40
From salon to stage: Mélanie in the Revolution (1790-1792)45
Reviving Mélanie (1796-1802)49
2. Changing habits: the monastic trope as secularisation, 1790 and 179157
Prisoners of the cloth: impossible love in monastic drama62
Taking it off: secularisation as comedy74
Over the line? Plays that failed83
3. Dramaturgies of the cloister in Les Victimes cloîtrées87
Places of the forgotten: legends of monastic prisons89
The origins of the double scene95
Reading the double scene102
4. Mother–daughter plots in monastic drama111
The pregnant nun in D’Alembert’s Eloge de Fléchier (1778)114
From sentimental to Gothic motherhood: Pougens’s Julie, ou la Religieuse de Nîmes117
Maternal heroism in Olympe de Gouges124
Republican family values: Chénier’s Fénelon, ou les Religieuses de Cambrai129
5. Brotherly orders: soldiers, monks and libertines in monastic comedy137
Persistent libertines: Les Visitandines141
Brotherhood or else: La Partie carrée150
Pigault-Lebrun: fraternity between the sexes158
Conclusion: lessons of the cloister165
Appendix 1: examples of the monastic trope in Revolutionary drama173
Appendix 2: bibliography of printed examples of the monastic trope181