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"This Astonishing Chaos of a Modern World": Gender, Nationality, and French-American Relations, 1871-1919

Dorothee-Elisabeth Maurer, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Abstract

This study examines the cultural relationship between France and America from 1871 to 1919. At a time when both countries emerged as imperial powers in the world, diplomatic relations between France and the United States calmed down. Increased tourism, however, began to take a hold of Americans, and women were part of a growing number of tourists who crossed the Atlantic in search of pleasure, education, and career opportunities. To examine how women shaped and contributed to the French-American alliance, whose origins date to the late eighteenth century, this project puts particular emphasis on the role of female tourists, art collectors, theater managers, and war relief workers during World War I. It illustrates that art, language, and refinement served as connecting points of which female cultural agents on both sides of the Atlantic availed themselves. Yet cross-cultural interactions served not only personal satisfaction and professional self-improvement. Given that women traveled from one empire to another, navigating America's military and economic superiority with France's pre-eminence in taste and culture, their transatlantic encounters also illuminate the shaping of a nation's cultural identity and the pursuit of political agendas, especially in times of war and global crises. ^ In addition to exploring women's active role in creating exchanges and sustaining communication across the Atlantic, this study examines the activities of two male-dominated organizations. The Alliance Française and the Comité France-Amérique sought to seduce and educate the transatlantic partner. They introduced the French and American publics to the rich heritage of French-American relations in the past while pointing to the potential and opportunities that a rekindled alliance might achieve in the twentieth century.^

Subject Area

History, European|History, United States|Women's Studies

Recommended Citation

Maurer, Dorothee-Elisabeth, ""This Astonishing Chaos of a Modern World": Gender, Nationality, and French-American Relations, 1871-1919" (2014). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3619146.
http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/dissertations/AAI3619146

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