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Research topics


"The disappearance of Claudine Rouge : rape, murder, and erasure in eighteenth-century France"


The Claudine Rouge affair is better known, both in the eighteenth century and now, as the criminal case which sparked a high-profile, decades-long polemic in forensic medicine over the signs of drowning. Claudine herself is largely absent from surviving documents and historical accounts. But Claudine, a seventeen-year-old silk-worker’s daughter who disappeared from her parent’s home on the last day of the Corpus Christi festival in Lyon, 25 June, 1767, was more than a test-case for ancien-régime justice. She was a real person, with a real body, who suffered probable rape and murder, and whose family were left with painful decisions to make about how to seek justice for her in a society where convictions for rape were extremely rare, and family survival depended on reputations tied to sexual honour.

I draw on approaches developed in women’s, gender, and feminist history, and critical archive studies to re-centre Claudine in her story as an example of how we might write the history of gendered sexual violence and murder, restoring humanity to subjects who are often objectified, victimized, and silenced by the very archives which tell us of their existence, and by the questions scholars ask of those archives.


Activities / Resume

Cathy McClive, Professor of History at Florida State University, is author of Menstruation and Procreation in Early Modern France (Ashgate, 2015), editor and translator of Marie Baudoin. The Art of Childbirth (Iter, 2022).