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Internationalism, National Identities, and Study AbroadFrance and the United States, 1890-1970$
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Whitney Walton

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780804762533

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804762533.001.0001

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§ American Girls and French Jeunes Filles

§ American Girls and French Jeunes Filles

Negotiating National Identities in Interwar France

Chapter:
(p.85) § 4 American Girls and French Jeunes Filles
Source:
Internationalism, National Identities, and Study Abroad
Publisher:
Stanford University Press
DOI:10.11126/stanford/9780804762533.003.0005

Women comprised the vast majority of undergraduates in the United States who went to study in France in the 1920s and 1930s. This chapter examines the unique experience of American women students who had to deal with gendered national stereotypes from both sides of the Atlantic during their junior year in France. Two of these stereotypes—the French jeune fille (the submissive, chaste, sheltered daughter of the respectable bourgeoisie) and the American girl (excessively independent, outspoken, and even sexually promiscuous)—shaped the experiences of American women students in France between the wars. By negotiating these stereotypes, American women students were able to reassess American and French cultures in very distinct ways, and, in addition, constructed original, individual feminine identities that reflected this new understanding, along with newly acquired confidence and self-reliance from studying and living in France. Women's participation in study abroad between the wars played a key role in its resumption after 1945.

Keywords:   women students, study abroad, stereotypes, France, United States, jeune fille, feminine identities, cultures, confidence, self-reliance

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