1st Edition

Forensic Storytelling and the Literary Roots of Early Modern Feminism ReSisters

By Barbara Abrams Copyright 2024
    172 Pages 35 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The writing of letters and the rise of the novel provided a way for some women to express themselves at a time when the all-male French Academy defined the very parameters of French literary acceptability and tradition. Women who were consigned to convents, workhouses or prisons were in most respects deprived of agency, yet many found ways to respond to the legal documents served against them. The letters and associated materials preserved in their legal files provide evidence that these women did not remain quiet, as they found means to resist authority. The forensic storytelling examined in this book supports the conclusion that the documents written in these constrained circumstances have both historical and literary merit and form the core of an understudied genre of literature.







    1. Chapter One: Forensic Storytelling and Antimonarchical Epistolarity 


    1. Chapter Two: Les Causes Célèbres, Factum or Fiction? Or: “That’s What He Said!”


    1. Chapter Three: Tanastès est Satan: Authenticity and Audacity in the Writings of Marie-Madeleine Bonafon


    1. Chapter Four:Excess or Success? The Case of Mme Geneviève de Gravelle


    1. Chapter Five: “What’s in a Name?”: The Case of Angélique Schwab






    Barbara Abrams is Professor of French and Women’s and Gender Studies and is Chair of the Department of History, Language, and Global Culture at Suffolk University, Boston. Her academic work focuses on French literature of the Enlightenment and Women’s and Gender Studies. Her recent publications include several articles on women’s epistolary writing in eighteenth-century France, the Factum as Fiction, and a new critical focus on the novels of Marie-Madeleine Bonafon. Her previous books include a multigraph project titled Reframing Rousseau’s Le Lévite d’Ephraïm: The Hebrew Bible, Hospitality, and Modern Identity (Oxford University Studies in the Enlightenment) and Le Bizarre and Le Décousu in the Novels and Theoretical Works of Denis Diderot: How the Idea of Marginality Originated in Eighteenth-Century France, which examines the background of our modern concept of marginality by focusing on Diderot’s materialist philosophy.