Salons in the 18th Century in France

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Today, people associate the word “salon” with a place to get your hair, makeup, or nails done. It is also a place for women to gossip and talk about the latest fashions, music, and other pop culture. When you think about it, modern-day salons actually seem very similar to salons of the 18th century in France. Salons in the 18th century were held for discussions relating to art, fashion, politics, etc. These salons played a fundamental role in the cultural and intellectual development of France. Although salons provided a place for both women and men to congregate for intellectual discourse, women were the center of the life in the salon. These women carried a very important role as regulators. They selected their guests and decided the subjects of their meetings. Women also had the role as mediator by directing the discussion. The salon was an informal university for women in which they were able to exchange ideas, receive and give criticism, read their own works and hear the works and ideas of other intellectuals. These gatherings are responsible for the advancement of female expression and power in France. There are many important women pertaining to 18th century salons in France. But, it is important to introduce one woman in particular who had a big impact on the salons. She is Marie Thérèse Rodet Geoffrin, better known as Madame Geoffrin. Madame Geoffrin's popularity in the eighteenth century came during a time where the center of social life was beginning to move away from the French court and toward the salons of Paris. Instead of the earlier, seventeenth-century salons of the high nobility, Madame Geoffrin's salon catered generally to a more philosophical crowd of the Enlightenment period. In her book, Enlightenment Salons... ... middle of paper ... ...scussion of the men. In this way, the ideas of the Enlightenment bore great influence on women's involvement in the salons. The Parisian salons of the 18th century allowed women to play a positive role in the public sphere of French society. Salons provided a unique outlet where women's ideas could be heard. Women, in addition to conversing with men at an academic level, had the power to influence the topics major philosophers studied. The cross-class communication that salons promoted also allowed social groups, which had never before interacted, to share ideas. Women's contributions to the development of intellectual and scientific ideas through their role as salonnières marked a cultural shift in how women should be accepted and involved in society. Though still limiting, salons forged the way for women's rights and leadership in the arts, sciences and politics.

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