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Marianne or Germania?Nationalizing Women in Alsace, 1870-1946$
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Elizabeth Vlossak

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199561117

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199561117.001.0001

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Rebuilding French Alsace: Language, Myth, and the Republican Ideal, 1914–24

Rebuilding French Alsace: Language, Myth, and the Republican Ideal, 1914–24

(p.168) 4 Rebuilding French Alsace: Language, Myth, and the Republican Ideal, 1914–24
Marianne or Germania?

Elizabeth Vlossak

Oxford University Press

Chapter 4 focuses on the many roles women played in the rebuilding of French Alsace after the war, as leaders, organizers and members of the language societies seeking to bring French words, thoughts, and Republican ideals back into the lives of all Alsatians. The instrumentalization of the Alsatian woman as a symbol of Frenchness in war propaganda is also analysed here. The popular image of the Alsacienne defending her French identity against the German invader was used to boost morale and for the purpose of French nation-building during the war and the immediate post-war period. Although language had become intrinsically linked to nationality, becoming French also involved the existence of a common heritage, a historical bond and a collective memory that would create a unified sense of French identity. Alsatian women would hopefully provide this cultural bridge.

Keywords:   language, French nation-building, symbolism, propaganda, collective memory

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