Karen OffenJul 14, 2022
Debating the Woman Question in the French Third Republic, 1870-1920
Cambridge University Press 2018
While it is an overused cliché, France is indeed a land of contrasts, famous for its paradoxes. In French political history, the most startling may be the progressive policies of the Third Republic (1870-1940) on just about everything except for gender. Despite its embrace of the spirit of 1789, universal manhood suffrage, and secularism, the republic deemed French women second class citizens. Indeed, French women did not get the vote until the Fourth Republic in 1944, a full generation after almost every nation-state in the global north. Karen Offen has written an encyclopedic history of French debates about the soi-dissant “Woman Question”. While Dr. Offen’s Debating the Woman Question in the French Third Republic, 1870-1920 (Cambridge University Press, 2018), was the focus of our discussion, we also touched on its companion book, The Woman Question in France, 1400-1870 (Cambridge UP, 2017).
Karen Offen earned her Ph.D. at Stanford University. She is currently a historian and independent scholar, affiliated as a Senior Scholar with the Michelle R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research, Stanford University. Dr. Offen publishes on the history of Modern Europe, especially France and its global influence; Western thought and politics with reference to family, gender, and the relative status of women; historiography; women's history; national, regional and global histories of feminism; comparative history, and the politics of knowledge. She has held fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship for study and research, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Michael G. Vann is a professor of world history at California State University, Sacramento. A specialist in imperialism and the Cold War in Southeast Asia, he is the author of The Great Hanoi Rat Hunt: Empires, Disease, and Modernity in French Colonial Vietnam (Oxford University Press, 2018). When he’s not reading or talking about new books with smart people, Mike can be found surfing in Santa Cruz, California.