A Frenchwoman’s Imperial Story: Madame Luce in by Rebecca Rogers

By Rebecca Rogers

Winner of the 2014 Mary Alice and Philip Boucher e-book Prize, backed through the French Colonial historic Society.

Honorable point out within the 2014 Pinkney Prize, subsidized through the Society for French historic Studies.

Eugénie Luce was once a French schoolteacher who fled her husband and deserted her relations, migrating to Algeria within the early 1830s. through the mid-1840s she had turn into an important determine in debates round academic rules, insisting that ladies have been a severe measurement of the French attempt to impact a fusion of the races. to assist this fusion, she based the 1st French university for Muslim ladies in Algiers in 1845, which thrived till gurus bring to an end her investment in 1861. At this aspect, she switched from educating spelling, grammar, and stitching, to embroidery—an pastime that attracted the eye of fashionable British feminists and gave her institution a celebrated attractiveness for generations.

The portrait of this extraordinary lady unearths the position of girls and women within the imperial initiatives of the time and sheds mild on why they've got disappeared from the old list considering then.

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Extra resources for A Frenchwoman’s Imperial Story: Madame Luce in Nineteenth-Century Algeria

Sample text

I have struggled throughout this project with how to recount Madame Luce’s adventures, in what language, addressing what audience, resorting to what claims to authority. English won the day, along with readability—I’m not a novelist’s daughter for nothing. The footnotes and the conclusion deal directly with the historian’s craft, offering insights on historiography and methods in Algerian, French, and women’s history. In the body of the book, however, I have chosen to emphasize a life story. And although this book pursues questions about girls’ Introduction  schooling, access to knowledge, and work that have long interested me, it places at the center of the story the woman who defended Muslim girls’ right to learn.

Parkes carefully situates Eugénie’s birth within the Christian calendar, born on the “great feast of Pentecost,” celebrated as Whitsun in Great Britain, and then presents her as the twelfth child of her parents. This precision as to the number of children must have come from Eugénie herself, but why did she invent such a large family? Was this simply a penchant for exaggeration? Whatever the answers to such questions, the presentation bears all the marks of a good storyteller and does a nice job disrupting not just British representations of French womanhood, but also historical descriptions of women’s lives in the early years of the nineteenth century.

Allix sending to inquire for the fugitive, the Algerine authorities actually sent back word that no such woman had been heard of in the colony! Parkes mentions the existence of a daughter, left in France with Eugénie’s mother, but dwells lightly on domestic discord before plunging into the description of Madame Allix’s early years in Algeria. This presentation of Eugénie’s early life highlights aspects of her character that clearly appealed: “a certain shrewd, practical simplicity of character”—so different from British representations of the frivolous French society woman— her strong will, her ability to rise above misfortune, and her determination to do something with her pedagogical talents.

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