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Lecture 89

EURO ST 10 Lecture Notes - Lecture 89: Olympe De Gouges, Petite Bourgeoisie, Aria

European Studies
Course Code
John Smith

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Professor Smith
Europe Studies 10
Course Code: 24000
4 units
2018 Fall Quarter
Tensions between the particular and the universal
Just like the enlightenment, the French Revolution was framed as a universal
Appeals to Nature and Reason” and the Supreme Being made possible a
critique of distinctions”
Recall Papageno’s a deep truth in answer to the question:
Who are you?
“Stupid question, a human being like you
Or there are black birds, why not black people
The declaration of the rights of man was to be a normative ideal against which
laws and social institutions could be measured
Equal law for all
And yet, we can recall the tension we saw in Sarastro’s aria, which called on the
one hand for the openness of these sacred halls” while, on the other hand,
practicing certain forms of oppositional exclusions
In fact, limitations were built into the very fabric of the Declaration
While natural rights” were to be granted to all human beings, the rights of
citizens” applied only to those who could contribute to the general will”
This led to a distinction between active and passive” citizens
Passive citizens were women, slaves, foreigners, and the poor (those who didn’t
pay taxes equivalent to 3 days of labor)
Over 50% of the population
Protection under the law, but no say in government
Contemporary cartoon mocking active (left) vs. passive (right) citizens
We have a similar distinction, which is the center of heated debates over
What is the status of undocumented residents?
To what rights are they entitled?
An early proponent of women’s rights
Olympe de Gouges (1748-1793)
Born Marie Gouze in a petit bourgeois family (though she thought she was an
illegitimate and unrecognized child of an aristocrat)
Hence her advocacy of rights for illegitimate children?
After her husband died she moved to Paris
Attended salons, lived with a number of men, changed her name, wrote plays, and
became politically active
Olympe de Gouges was an abolitionist and wrote pamphlets and a play against
slavery in the French colonies
An aside
Revolution in the French colony of Saint-Domingue
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