In 1800, Napoleon Bonaparte sought to impose an absolute political authority as First Consul for life, and emperor in 1804. A network of women authors connected with Germaine de Stael in Paris, Coppet, Berlin, and Florence maintained salons and addressed political conflicts in their novels, correspondence and theory. Nationalist histories, written by salon members, reinforced their unified political agenda by emphasizing the heroic acts that guaranteed national freedom. Semiotics became the primary means of political propaganda and persuasion in the absence of legislative debate and women's suffrage. As Napoleon expanded the boundaries of his empire throughout Europe, Neoclassicism became the dominant mode of imperial design expressed through Roman imperial motifs in monuments he erected throughout Paris. Romanticism, by contrast was favored by the resistance movement in women's literary salons. Faced with an enforced political impotence imposed by society, women turned to literature as a political tool in fomenting political propaganda movements.
Women's literary salons that once entertained Republican political circles at the time of the French Revolution, continued to promote republican or monarchist values as anti-Napoleonic centers from Paris to Florence. The salons reflected their hostesses' political agenda to overthrow a patriarchal tyrannical order that had displaced the former Republican value of social equality or monarchist values of self-rule and nationalism. The issue of womens' citizenship and social equality was overturned during the early Republic, and precluded again by the imperial Napoleonic regime. Thus, women's novels, correspondence, and dramas represented an alternative to direct political participation by presenting moral and patriotic role models designed to instill republican or monarchist values in their audience through contemporary theories of epistemology.