This study examines how various gendered forces?social, cultural, and other?combined to shape a new national identity in France following the Second World War. During the war, the
Vichy regime, a quasi-fascist government, was in power. After the war, it was important for French people to act like republican men and women. This benefited the nation on two levels: national
and international. Nationally, it created a sense of unity and belonging, as well as the stability necessary for reconstruction through a denial of France's Vichy past. Internationally, it
allowed France?under the leadership of Charles de Gaulle?to stake a claim as a member of the Great Powers. However, the meaning of republican citizenship was not immediately evident in the
tumultuous postwar context. Instead, sources such as women's magazines, novels, newspapers, memoirs, and others, helped to define what it meant to be a French person after the war and to
communicate this idea to the populace. This new, gendered national identity was, however, quite narrow in terms of the limits of acceptable behavior for postwar men and women. The first half of
the dissertation focuses on the positive definitions of acceptability, or the blueprint for performing a righteous French identity. Topics of inquiry include the permutations of martyrdom, love,
and appearance that all contributed toward a conceptualization of?particularly feminine?French identity. The second half of the dissertation emphasizes what happened to those who did not conform
to such definitions, such as female torturers, spies, and the femmes tondues. Their punishments were swift and, more importantly, public, thereby acting to inform the French people about the
dangers of straying from the norm. Ultimately, such definitions broke down in the face of overwhelming evidence?such as the crisis in Algeria and the burgeoning women's movement?that they were
ideal rather than real. This dissertation thus explores the gendered meanings of citizenship and national belonging through an examination of postwar France.
Colvin, Kelly Ricciardi,
"Engendering Frenchness: Gender and French Identity during the Long Liberation"
History Theses and Dissertations.
Brown Digital Repository. Brown University Library.