Tender Geographies offers a new version of literary history by arguing that French women writers were the originators of the modern novel. Joan DeJean exposes the gender politics of canon formation in France.During what is considered the Great Century of French Letters (1630-1715), women writers were active in numbers unheard of before or since. Featuring the best known early women novelists--ScudA(c)ry and Lafayette-- Tender Geographies repositions literary women in their contemporary context. DeJean demonstrates that women's writing was widely thought to convey a politically and socially subversive vision. Originally considered a threat to Church and State, women's novels were deliberately represented as innocent love stories by the first official literary historians and subsequently consigned to oblivion. DeJean demonstrates that the novel owes its origins to a thoroughly political act; the decision by women to make the genre a revolutionary force.
Jean DeJean is a Trustee Professor at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of Fictions of Sappho (1546-1937) and co-editor, with Nancy Miller of Displacements: Women, Tradition, Literatures in French.