Between the Sheets: Classified Advertising, Sexuality, and the Moral Threat to Press Freedom in France


ACLS Fellowship Program


French and Italian Studies

Named Award

ACLS Morton N. Cohen and Richard N. Swift Fellowship Fund named award


At the turn of the twentieth century, the Parisian classifieds were peopled by a diverse range of actors, including sex workers, queer people, adulterers, and abortionists. This posed thorny questions for the French Third Republican project (1870–1940), with its commitments to both economic and press freedom and (sexual) morality and natality. "Between the Sheets" reframes the history of French republicanism and its freedoms through the terse and easily overlooked and thus previously understudied classified ad. It shows how freedom of the press and the publicity of the mass press’s back pages opened up possibilities for living non-normative lives in private, which in turn inspired state and social efforts to exercise close control over both non-normative bodies and new media in the name of republican morality, with lasting effects on French law regarding gender and the family.