Annotated Bibliography of Criticism


Anesti, Maria. “Au Nom Du Pere: Women and the Transmission of Catholic Faith in           French Painting (1880-1900).” Magistra 20.2 (2014): 91-113. Web. 31 March 2016.

In “Au Nom Du Pere: Women and the Transmission of Catholic Faith in French Painting (1880-1900),” Maria Anesti discusses what she calls “the feminization of Catholicism” in the nineteenth century. She claims that as French men became more secular after the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, French women’s devotion to religion increased. By the early-nineteenth century, religion, Anesti argues, became “the affair of women.” What is more, Anesti claims, the men’s separation from religion led to the French society’s demand for women to embrace “the Christian values of purity, piety, and devotion to their families” (91). This shift, Anesti adds, was represented in multiple works of art from 1880 – 1900, a time, as Anesti describes it, of intensified division between anti-clerical Republicans and Catholics.

Anesti discusses several works of art from the two decades, and notes that most of them represent women, mainly mothers, in the act of transmitting the Catholic faith to their daughters by teaching them how to pray. The only male figures depicted in those works of art are priests. Anesti explains the absence of other male figures in the paintings as follows: while women’s devotion to religion sustained morality and order (101), men’s role in society rested outside of religion (102). Additionally, as Anesti claims, “innocence and humility,” both of which were closely linked to piety, represented “feminine” qualities. As such, Catholicism “endorsed gender stereotypes” (104). Consequently, Anesti states, the ideals of submission and domesticity were inseparable from those feminine qualities.

François Coppée’s play Pater Noster is set during the years that Anesti characterizes as a time of heightened division between male and female attitudes towards religion. Moreover, Anesti cites Coppée as an example of a man who, having abandoned religion, returned to his Catholic faith as he was reminded of his childhood prayers with his mother (95). According to Anesti, the woman’s role, as represented by the art works from the late-nineteenth century, and as implied by Coppée’s words, is to submit to authority (which is all male: husband, priest, God) and to instill Christian values into her offspring. For that, she is idealized and immortalized in art, and in Coppée’s play.

—Ewa Barnes


Schaffer, Aaron. “A Comparison of the Poetry of Francois Coppée and Eugene Manuel.” PMLA 43.4 (1928): 1039–1054. Web. 9 April 2016.

Aaron Schaffer’s essay focuses on parallels in the works of Francois Coppée, late nineteenth-century French poet and playwright, and his far lesser-known countryman Eugene Manuel, in order to determine whether or not Coppée owes a creative debt to the work done by this contemporary of his. Schaffer compares the similar lives of the two poets, their varying relationships to the Parnassian school, and four main “rubrics” of the two poets’ work: “‘poésie intime,’ ‘poésie des humbles,’ poetry inspired by the Franco-Prussian War, and religious poetry” (1041). Schaffer believes the “poésie des humbles,” or “poetry of the humble” to be the most important rubric of the four, and argues that this class of work is the most identity-forming for Coppée, Manuel, and the association between the two. He points to themes – such as drunkenness, the lives of street performers, and “the kept woman” – shared between both poets (1047). After a continued examination of this rubric and the other three, as well as a return to a comparison of circumstance, Schaffer determines that despite certain differences Coppée was familiar with, and most probably to some extent inspired by, Manuel’s work, and that he is indeed indebted to his largely forgotten compatriot. Finally, Schaffer asserts that Coppée should be thought of not as a solitary “‘poète des humbles’” but as “‘un des premiers poètes des humbles,’” (one of the first, or best, poets of the humble) alongside Eugene Manuel (1054).

—Carly Rubin



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