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Marie-Antoinette is one of the most fascinating and controversial figures in all of French history. Married to the heir to the French throne at age fourteen, Marie-Antoinette was at the center of public attention during the final tumultuous years of the Old Regime and the French Revolution. For a variety of reasons explored in this volume - all of which revolved around her gender - Marie-Antoinette came to represent the monarchy as it came under increasing attack. As both a woman and queen, she became a privileged site of the political contestation and criticism that characterized the end of the eighteenth century in France.
Rather than retell the story of her life, the contributors to this volume reveal how crucial political and cultural contests were enacted "on the body of the queen" and on the complex identity of Marie-Antoinette. They explore the difficulties of Marie-Antoinette's position as a woman, a foreigner, and a queen in the final decades of the eighteenth century and help us to understand the waves of pornography and accusations of lesbianism, incest, and treason launched against her. Taken together, these essays suggest that it is precisely because Marie-Antoinette represented the contradictions in the social, political and gender systems of her era that, through her, we can both learn about the French past and shed new light on questions of gender, sexuality, and female power that continue to trouble us today.
Illustrations. Credits. Acknowledgements. Introduction: Not Another Biography of Marie-Antoinette! A Select Chronology of Marie-Antoinette's Life. Biographical Sketches of Principal Figures in the Life of Marie-Antoinette 1. Hapsburg Letters: The Disciplinary Dynamics of Epistolary Narrative in the Correspondence of Maria Theresa and Marie-Antoinette 2. The Portrait of the Queen 3. The Diamond Necklace Affair Revisited (1785-1786): The Case of the Missing Queen 4. The Heroine of the Crime: Marie-Antoinette in Pamphlets 5. The Many Bodies of Marie-Antoinette: Political Pornography and the Problem of the Feminine in the French Revolution 6. Pass as a Woman, Act Like a Man: Marie-Antoinette as Tribade in the Pornography of the French Revolution 7. Ambiguous Identities: Marie-Antoinette and the House of Lorraine from the Affair of the Minuet to Lambesc's Charge 8. Marie-Antoinette Obsession 9. "We're Just Little People, Louis": Marie-Antoinette on Film 10. Terrorizing Marie-Antoinette Afterword: The (Ab)uses of Marie-Antoinette. Notes on Contributors. Index
Dena Goodman is Professor of History and Women's Studies at the University of Michigan. Her publications include The Republic of Letters: A Cultural History of the French Enlightenment (1994) and Going Public: Women and Publishing in Early Modern France, which she co-edited (1995).
"With superb and intriguing scholarship, these essays capture the complexity of Marie-Antoinette's image from the Old Regime to the present day. The collection stands out for its readability and its insightful analysis of the representation of gender, politics, and sexuality." -Suzanne Desan, University of Wisconsin-Madison ""Marie-Antoinette: Writings on the Body of a Queen brilliantly captures the many facets of the legendary Queen. Through their analyses of correspondence, pamphlets, archives, and iconography, the authors show the complex networks of slander and passion that shaped Marie-Antoinette's fate. Ultimately, the book also provides sobering insights into the suspicions always generated by the fear of women's empowerment." -Marie-Helene Hunt, Princeton University "Dena Goodman has assembled a terrific collection of essays on Marie-Antoinette. It brilliantly reveals how this inkblot of a queen, a mother, and a woman became so potent a symbol in theFrench Revolution, and has remained so since. And it shows what some of the most original historical scholars have been up to." -Keith Michael Baker, Stanford University "Splendid....Showcases work by "dix-huitiemistes in history, art history, and literary studies. The contributors, using a variety of sources and methods, analyze the figure of the dauphine/queen from many angles and, in so doing, exemplify creative scholarship in contemporary cultural history. Collectively, the authors transcend traditional "petite histoire by examining texts, pictures, and incidents in detail and by speculating about the larger meanings of it all." -H-France