Catalogue


For health and beauty : physical culture for Frenchwomen, 1880s-1930s /
Mary Lynn Stewart.
imprint
Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press, c2001.
description
xii, 274 p. : ill.
ISBN
0801864836 (alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press, c2001.
isbn
0801864836 (alk. paper)
catalogue key
4225512
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Mary Lynn Stewart is a professor in the Department of History and the Women's Studies Department at Simon Fraser University.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2002-04-01:
Stewart (Simon Fraser Univ.; Women, Work, and the French State, CH, Dec'89; Gender and the Politics of Social Reform in France, 1870-1914, 1995) blends thoughtful synthesis with the results of dogged, detailed research in this outstanding study of the complex forces that constructed gender roles in France during the crucial years of the Third Republic. At the heart of the pervasive French debates surrounding national identity, depopulation, degeneration, and political citizenship, Stewart locates contradictory and continuous efforts to define femininity, beauty, health, reproduction, and sexuality within the rapidly evolving context of a tumultuous half-century. Increasingly bombarded with advice and advertisements (which, as a totality, Stewart appropriately characterizes as a "biomedical and biosocial agenda"), French women adapted, adopted, and in one key area, resisted; despite all the urging, French women refused to have more babies. Extensive endnotes are supplemented by a brief bibliographic essay, and well-chosen illustrations nicely underscore Stewart's arguments. This seminal work will inspire considerable discussion, and belongs in every advanced library collection, upper-division undergraduate and above. B. Burkhard University of Maryland University College
Reviews
Review Quotes
For Health and Beauty is a fascinating exploration of the construction of gender roles in fin-de-si cle France. This book is a treasure trove of advice, admonition, exhortation, skullduggery, persuasion, and rhetorical excess that writers, officials, educators, advertisers, and physicians lavished upon women for decades.
For Health and Beauty is a fascinating exploration of the construction of gender roles in fin-de-siècle France. This book is a treasure trove of advice, admonition, exhortation, skullduggery, persuasion, and rhetorical excess that writers, officials, educators, advertisers, and physicians lavished upon women for decades.
"For Health and Beauty is a fascinating exploration of the construction of gender roles in fin-de-siècle France. This book is a treasure trove of advice, admonition, exhortation, skullduggery, persuasion, and rhetorical excess that writers, officials, educators, advertisers, and physicians lavished upon women for decades." -- James Smith AllenSouthern Illinois University, author of Poignant Relations: Three Modern French Women
"Like good wine, this book exemplifies how ten years of slower maturation of research bring a more subtle and multi-layered final result... an invaluable springboard for multi-disciplinary investigation in French, social and women's history."--Mary Orr, History: Reviews of Books
Mary Lynn Stewart has produced an informative work based on her examination of a wide range of scientific and popular sources from the period. She succeeds in bringing to light the attitudes conveyed to French women about their bodies in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
"Mary Lynn Stewart has produced an informative work based on her examination of a wide range of scientific and popular sources from the period. She succeeds in bringing to light the attitudes conveyed to French women about their bodies in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries."--Alice J. Strange, French Review
This carefully researched work challenges historians to a different kind of dialogue on comparative studies... It is stimulating for those interested in comparative representations of gender differences and political pressures on women's self understanding.
"This carefully researched work challenges historians to a different kind of dialogue on comparative studies... It is stimulating for those interested in comparative representations of gender differences and political pressures on women's self understanding."--Marilyn S. Mavrinac, History of Education Quarterly
This seminal work will inspire considerable discussion, and belongs in every advanced library collection.
"This seminal work will inspire considerable discussion, and belongs in every advanced library collection."-- Choice
Like good wine, this book exemplifies how ten years of slower maturation of research bring a more subtle and multi-layered final result... an invaluable springboard for multi-disciplinary investigation in French, social and women's history.
"In sum, For Health and Beauty provides a detailed and wide-ranging analysis of the shifting discourses and practices of bourgeois French women's embodiment during five momentous decades of transformations in gender norms and expectations."-- Social History of Medicine
In sum, For Health and Beauty provides a detailed and wide-ranging analysis of the shifting discourses and practices of bourgeois French women's embodiment during five momentous decades of transformations in gender norms and expectations.
"A thoughtful and highly readable study... No other historian has so successfully integrated the discourse on women's bodies, framed by an idealized concept of the bourgeois woman, with the physical reality of the working-class woman's experience."--Theresa M. McBride, American Historical Review
[A] wide-ranging history of physical culture at the turn of the century... Stewart's conclusions are thought-provoking and the range of her research impressive.
"[A] wide-ranging history of physical culture at the turn of the century... Stewart's conclusions are thought-provoking and the range of her research impressive."--Morag Martin, Medical History
An extremely thorough and perceptive analysis of a vast corpus of largely disregarded material.
"An extremely thorough and perceptive analysis of a vast corpus of largely disregarded material." -- Sian Reynolds, French History
A thoughtful and highly readable study... No other historian has so successfully integrated the discourse on women's bodies, framed by an idealized concept of the bourgeois woman, with the physical reality of the working-class woman's experience.
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, April 2002
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
In late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century France the idea of "physical culture" emerged, promising health and beauty but also seeking to promote women's fertility in a period of declining population. Going beyond the simple argument that women's bodily standards and practices were altered by such cultural disciplines as education, medicine, journalism, and advertising, Mary Lynn Stewart argues that these disciplines needed to change their own messages in their attempts to persuade women. As Stewart demonstrates, internal contradictions in the experts' advice, especially concerning issues of sexuality and reproduction, failed to convince women to follow all of their counsel--particularly the most persistent advice, which was to have more children. In For Health and Beauty, Stewart reviews the new scientific and medical attention to women's bodies during the Third Republic and traces the growing emphasis on women's private hygiene as the basis for public hygiene. She then examines compulsory education in hygiene and gymnastics, the flourishing genre of women's medical and sexual self-help literature, and the commercialization of health, beauty, and fitness products--all contributing to new scientific and commercial representations of the female body. In both the scientific and popular works, including women's autobiographical writings, bodily ideals changed from rounded, plump figures to straighter, slimmer contours, and from relatively immobile to relatively active bodies.
Main Description
In late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century France the idea of "physical culture" emerged, promising health and beauty but also seeking to promote women's fertility in a period of declining population. Going beyond the simple argument that women's bodily standards and practices were altered by such cultural disciplines as education, medicine, journalism, and advertising, Mary Lynn Stewart argues that these disciplines needed to change their own messages in their attempts to persuade women. As Stewart demonstrates, internal contradictions in the experts' advice, especially concerning issues of sexuality and reproduction, failed to convince women to follow all of their counsel -- particularly the most persistent advice, which was to have more children. In For Health and Beauty, Stewart reviews the new scientific and medical attention to women's bodies during the Third Republic and traces the growing emphasis on women's private hygiene as the basis for public hygiene. She then examines compulsory education in hygiene and gymnastics, the flourishing genre of women's medical and sexual self-help literature, and the commercialization of health, beauty, and fitness products -- all contributing to new scientific and commercial representations of the female body. In both the scientific and popular works, including women's autobiographical writings, bodily ideals changed from rounded, plump figures to straighter, slimmer contours, and from relatively immobile to relatively active bodies.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrationsp. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Introductionp. 1
Carnal Knowledgep. 17
Embodying Genderp. 21
Biomedicine and Femininityp. 40
Hygiene and Housewiferyp. 56
Reproductive Rhythmsp. 75
Puberty and Purityp. 79
Sexual Initiation and Sex Educationp. 95
Pleasure and Procreationp. 112
Menopause and Lossp. 130
Physical Performancep. 147
Gymnastics, Sports, and Genderp. 151
Working Bodiesp. 173
Epiloguep. 194
Notesp. 201
Bibliographical Essayp. 261
Indexp. 267
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

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