In middle and upper-class families in nineteenth-century France, dolls were important objects materially, culturally, and psychically, as suggested by their ubiquity in women's memoirs as well as the proliferation of fictions devoted to them. The middle and later decades of the century saw important changes in the design and production of these highly class-differentiated objects. This article draws upon Robin Bernstein's methodological approach to the culture of childhood and race in the American context to argue that dolls played a significant part in the learning and transmission of class cultures for middle and upper-class children in nineteenthcentury France. A first section traces the important psychic weight of dolls for nineteenth- century French girls via the autobiographies of women ranging from the obscure to the famous. The second part centers on the strikingly abundant corpus of fictions of the period centered on dolls to argue first for their taxonomic importance : differences between dolls gave girls both a map of social distinctions and scripts for playing upon them. Dolls were also disciplinary inasmuch as they invited and reinforced class-specific values and behaviors. Methodologically the article proposes, following Bernstein, a dynamic approach to material culture revolving around concepts of script and performance.
|Translated title of the contribution||Toy stories: Dolls, material culture, and class imaginaries in nineteenth-century France|
|Number of pages||33|
|State||Published - Apr 9 2020|
- 19th century
- Material culture
ASJC Scopus subject areas