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‘Let the feminine plebiscite be consulted’: English Feminists' Campaign Journalism, Foreign Policy and the Crisis in France of 1870-71

Siân Kitchen

Published In:
Published Date:

January 2021


Franco-Prussian War, Paris Commune, Victorian Feminists, Contagious Diseases Acts, Suffrage, Nineteenth-Century Press


Feminist campaign journalism of the 1860s and 1870s both promoted women’s campaigns and expressed opinions on spheres outside those usually ascribed to women, including foreign events. English feminists’ activist and journalistic responses to the French crisis of 1870-71, from the commencement of the Franco-Prussian War through to the defeat of the Paris Commune, contextualise key events in the women’s campaigns of the same period. I argue that feminist writings of this period were influenced not only by feminist campaigning but also by the campaigners’ political ideologies. The feminist press challenged the notion of an ‘imagined community’ with regard to English attitudes to European affairs. Such attitudes were embedded in English masculine notions of self-identity that defined itself against a ‘foreign other’. Instead, the feminist press created their own ‘imagined community’. However, this may itself be challenged, as it emerged from English feminists’ experiences which were themselves grounded in their own class privileges and political ideologies.

Published in:



78 - 104

Date of Publication:

January 2021

About the author

Siân Kitchen

Siân Kitchen graduated from the University of Hertfordshire with a degree in Literature with Historical Studies in 1998 and completed her Masters degree in European History at Birkbeck College, University of London in 2017, where research included aspects of women’s and feminist history in Europe in the mid-late nineteenth century.

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