As Women's Voices Rise, Prof. Carrie Klaus Hears Echoes of the Past
July 5, 2018
Women’s participation in 17th-century French politics has relevance in today’s world, says Carrie F. Klaus, professor of modern languages (French).
Klaus, a 1993 DePauw graduate, is investigating women's voices during the Fronde, civil wars that took place in France from 1648 to 1653, when courts of law and high-ranking nobles tried to check the expanding reach of royal authority.
Last fall, Klaus spent three months conducting research in Washington D.C. at the Folger Shakespeare Library, which has a rich collection of Mazarinades, political pamphlets produced during that period. Then in the spring she visited libraries in Paris, Chantilly and Bordeaux to study more of the pamphlets. (below: Château de Chantilly)
“I’m interested in the real, historical women who contributed to these pamphlets as well as the imagined women – from queens and princesses to fishwives and prostitutes, even a statue on the banks of the Seine – to whom anonymous writers give voice,” she says. Klaus is focusing on women’s political authority -- that is, at what moments and in what circumstances women were perceived as having the right to speak out, engage in public life and lead nations.
During the Fronde, Queen Anne of Austria served as regent for her son, King Louis XIV, who was still a minor. She bore the brunt of the attacks against the crown, but she ultimately held the state together during some really turbulent years. “Of course,” Klaus says, “the recent presidential campaign and election in the United States demonstrated the continuing relevance, and even urgency, of these issues.”
Klaus says she is looking forward to getting back into the classroom, especially to teach a first-year seminar about the French Revolution. Students will spend a few weeks in an immersive role-playing game in which they will reenact the gathering of the National Assembly in Paris in summer 1791, two years after the storming of the Bastille.