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Grant number like: FZ-256516-17

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Rachel Lisa Mesch
Yeshiva University (New York, NY 10033-3299)

Public Scholars
Research Programs

[Grant products]

$29,400 (approved)
$29,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
2/1/2018 – 8/31/2018

Three Women Writers Who Lived as Men: Jane Dieulafoy (1850-1916), Marc de Montifaud (1849-1913), and Rachilde (1860-1953)

Research and writing of a biographical study of three late 19th-century French women writers who lived their lives as men—housewife-turned-archaeologist Jane Dieulafoy (1850-1916), art critic Marc de Montifaud (1849-1913), and novelist Rachilde (1860-1953).

My project is a biographical study of three late nineteenth-century French writers in which I explore how transgender identities were expressed and understood before the modern category existed. Simultaneously construed as oddities and celebrated for their accomplishments, [Jane] Dieulafoy, [Marc de] Montifaud, and Rachilde defied the available terms for women who challenged gender norms. This book uses the contemporary critical lens of transgender to understand their fascinating and very different life stories, exploring their copious efforts to make sense of their own selves through writing and photography. By recovering the gender diversity of this particular time period in France, Trans Before Trans seeks to highlight the continuing relevance of the Humanities to broader public debates, situating struggles assumed to be a product of contemporary life in a wider history.