Taking a Look at the Dreyfus Affair

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The Dreyfus Affair, Severine, Marguerite Durand and Sarah Bernhardt challenged the way the New Woman should be idealized. While Durand and Bernhardt symbolized women who used their various qualities to exert power over their male counterparts and alter the way society viewed women, Severine and the case involving Dreyfus questioned the way the New Woman and French Officials were portrayed in Fin-de-Siècle France. The Dreyfus affair took place in the town of Rennes in the 1890’s and involved a Jew/former officer in the army named Alfred Dreyfus. The case was brought about when Dreyfus was accused of treason due to the army’s large connection to Anti-Semitism. This affair became a major turning point in journalism in France because it opened up the doors to French collective opinion in the press. This case involving Dreyfus relates heavily to our course due to its connection to the New Woman. During the affair, women who supported the case were considered a “wandering Jew,” which was a demeaning term to describe women who did not claim a role in French society. By not having a fixed representation attached to themselves, these women, nonetheless, were considered a wandering Jew claimed to have no strong characterization of identity or beliefs. Our course discusses the stereotypes fixated on women through the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Individuals, not just in France, look to place individuals in categories that are fixed. The term “wandering Jew,” that

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