Republican Socialism and Gendered Portrayals of Catholic Masculinity in Nineteenth-Century France

in Historical Reflections/Réflexions Historiques
Randolph Miller Carroll University and University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, USA

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The popularity of Ultramontanism and the political energy provided by Sacred Heart piety gave French Catholicism of the post-Commune era a militant posture, one that republican socialists saw as antagonistic to their political objectives. This article shows that socialists responded by emasculating their Catholic opponents. Drawing on the materialist tradition that emerged from the Enlightenment and Revolution, and highlighting the resignation and emotive nature of radical Catholic piety, republican socialists maintained that religious belief was evidence of inadequate virility. Speaking to the anxieties of the period, which included concerns about racial degeneration and the adequacy of France on the world stage, this gendering of epistemological convictions allowed socialists to argue for the exclusion of religion and the religious male from French politics.

Contributor Notes

Randolph Miller received his Ph.D. in European History/Modern Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2018. His dissertation, “‘A New Brand of Men’: Masculinity in French Republican Socialist Rhetoric,” focused on republican socialist use of a gendered rhetoric against their political rivals throughout the nineteenth century. He has taught courses on the history of socialism, women and gender in Modern Europe, and the European origins of modernity. He is currently a lecturer in history at Carroll University in Waukesha, Wisconsin, and the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. Email:

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