Social Control and Agency: A Working Woman in Early Modern Paris

Monday, January 5, 2015: 12:00 PM
Concourse D (New York Hilton)
Jacob Melish, University of Northern Colorado
My presentation examines the various institutional and informal agents that sought to regulate married women’s sexuality on the ground in an artisanal neighborhood of late seventeenth century Paris, and the means by which women were able to overcome them. At the center of the analysis is a married woman who dominated both her husband and lover, and overcame the various forces lined up against her, to live openly in adultery. She is placed in the context of other cases from the neighborhood as well as the law. The analysis shows deep weaknesses in the apparently overwhelming forces seeking to regulate married women’s sexuality, as well as the devastating effects such forces could have.