The introduction examines the potential reasons for the critical neglect suffered by women’s magazines and more ‘popular’ genres generally. Conversely, it looks at why this genre remains so favoured by women writers and readers, and why women who never read books read magazines. It examines the fundamentally dialogic, ‘personal’ quality of women’s journals which points up their feminist potential for an ongoing and egalitarian negotiation between French women and the roles posited in the press destined for them. If the sheer regularity of publication and the often intimate nature of content serve to increase the impression of authenticity and overall proximity to the topical ‘dailiness’ of the French women readers the press seeks to attract, that relationship is not solely one of reflection: early journals not only mirror the current day-to-day reality of women’s position in French society but often endeavour to prescribe and promote non-conventional female figurations, particularly those journals with a feminist content. The book’s interest lies above all with the textual representations of women in the French press and how these adapt – or not – over the period in question; with how women’s political aims find expression; and with the dialogue established between woman writers and readers.
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