Essay on sexuality in 19th century

It would be unfair to simply compare Smith's wives of the Nord to the female types of . Most obviously, Smith's archival research was based on the lives of real women, while is, at its core, a collection of essays and short stories. Its physiologies tell us more about how their authors viewed the modern city and its inhabitants than about those inhabitants themselves. But stereotypes are often based on reality, and we cannot ignore the collected evidence from popular literature telling us that although bourgeois respectability remained the dominant discourse of the 19th century, real women transgressed gender and class boundaries every day as they navigated the urban public sphere unaccompanied for the first time.

troubadours; Falling in love; Free love; Friendship

Affection; Bonding; Broken heart; Compassionate love; Conjugal love; Courtly love

19th Century (1800-1899) | Poster Illustration

The physiology of is the first female type depicted in the first Tome of , which reflects her importance to observers of the 19th century Parisian cityscape. can be similar to a in that she might work as a salesgirl in a boutique or be the servant of a wealthy woman. Her class-identity is cleary "in-between" in that she barely manages to scrape together a living, but she is exposed every day through her work to the luxury of the bourgeois lifestyle. And as in Balzac's essay on , Janin describes 's personal dignity and her simple, girlish beauty of la grisette, so removed from the overbearing maternal presence of . In this passage, Janin writes about the poverty of and how she manages to hide it — just as all modern women obscure their true identities — through fashion and engagement in the public sphere:

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By comparing to men who try to improve their lot in life through economic activity, d'Anspach locates women as players in and contributors to the modern social and economic project. D'Anspach has a more nuanced and realistic view of women's role in modernity than Balzac, Janin or Smith. Because she understands that modernity was in fact, transformative for many women, she is able to explain how they enthusiastically took part in it. But d'Anspach also understands that respectable women are still expected to conform to bourgeois values when it comes to home and family. Her modiste will never achieve upper middle-class status by working in a boutique. To do that, she will need to make a good marriage, and d'Anspach accepts that ultimately, that is how these young women will better themselves. By selling commodities to the rich, they expose themselves to a world of eligible suitors who might not ever have considered them in another era. This relatively liberated working woman becomes a commodity herself. She must look pulled together, smile at her customers, and engage in coquettish conversation with ease. Her sexuality is for sale. So while Smith conceives of 19th century women as reproducers and consumers, it is clear that another role was open to them: that of the self-marketer. barters in traditional femininity in the hope of attracting male consumers.

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