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    Working women in Mercier's 'Tableau de Paris': defining prostitution

    Lewis, Ann (2022) Working women in Mercier's 'Tableau de Paris': defining prostitution. In: Women and Work across the 18th-century Francophone Globe, 13-14 Oct 2022, Dublin, Ireland. (Unpublished)

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    This presentations takes two topics from the call for papers as its core: * How the eighteenth-century Francophone globe defines women at work – what is work and how was work defined for women? * The evolution, evocation and interpretation of the oldest profession. * Modern scholarship has come to reframe prostitution as sex work, to avoid replicating and reinforcing moral perspectives and prejudices which informed the subject in an ceighteenth-century context and beyond. As Nina Kushner writes: ‘Leaving regulation for a moment, and looking instead at prostitutes within the context of their lives as mothers, daughters, wives, neighbours, and consumers brings them back into the history of women. It highlights the ways in which prostitution was shaped by culture and economics. It also recasts prostitution from a crime or moral problem to a form of work. Thinking of prostitution as work is a newer paradigm in prostitution studies […]. By eighteenth-century standards, elite prostitution did not qualify as work. However, in addition to considering galanterie a vice and a social problem, a wide range of contemporary sources constructed it as sexual labor, which the dame entretenue owned and could sell’ ('Erotic Exchanges', p.9) Building on the work of Nina Kushner and Laurence Mall (amongst others), together with a range of definitions from the c18, this paper explores the ways in which Mercier’s representation of the activity of prostitution, and his discussion of different categories of women involved in transactional sex, connect to the concept of ‘work’ or ‘labour’ (or not). The notion of ‘métier’ is explored as part of this broader discussion.


    Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Creative Arts, Culture and Communication
    Research Centres and Institutes: Aesthetics of Kinship and Community, Birkbeck Research in (BRAKC)
    Depositing User: Ann Lewis
    Date Deposited: 04 Nov 2022 16:36
    Last Modified: 09 Aug 2023 12:53


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