The Birth of European Thought Chapter 16 AP Euro

Flor Sanchez
C Block
Chapters 16: The Birth of Modern European Thought
Reading Guide:
The New Reading Public:
How had literacy rates increased from 18th-19th centuries? Why?
- Governments financed education
o Literacy on the continent improved steadily from the 1860s onwards
o Austria mandated elementary education in 1775
o Hungary provided elementary education in 1868
o Britain provided elementary education in 1870
o Switzerland provided elementary education in 1874
o Italy provided elementary education in 1877
o France provided elementary education between 1878 and 1881
- Advanced education system of Prussia was extended throughout the German Empire after 1871
What was the general public reading? How was this different from centuries before?
- By 1900, approx. 85% of the people in Britain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, and
Scandinavia could read
o Before, only the wealthiest were able to become educated and learn how to read
- Literacy rates in Austria-Hungary varied from very high in certain urban areas to very low in the
eastern and southernmost provinces
Predict what this change might mean for the future? For science? For religion? For government?
- People will be able to share more ideas with each other
- Some ideas could be implemented into daily life and made into inventions
- People will be able to better understand the laws and rules of governments, and what they can
and cannot do
o Both liberals and conservatives regarded such minimal training as necessary for orderly
political behavior by the newly enfranchised votes
o Hoped literacy would create a more productive labor force
Science at Midcentury:
What is Positivism? Who “invented” this idea? How was it received, i.e. did people believe it/follow it?
- The philosophy of Auguste Comte that science is the final, or positive, stage of human
intellectual development because it involves exact descriptions of phenomena, without
recourse to unobservable operative principles, such as gods or spirits
o In the first, or theological, stage, physical nature was explained in terms of the action of
divinities or spirits
o In the second, or metaphysical, stage, abstract principles were regarded as the
operative agencies of nature
o In the final, or positive, stage, explanations of nature were based on exact description
of phenomena
- Generally regarded as the father of sociology; his works helped convince learned Europeans
that all knowledge must resemble scientific knowledge
What is science fiction? Who are some of the most famous writers?
- Works composed about fantasy voyages to distant lands
- Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
Jules Verne’s Five Weeks in a Balloon, From the Earth to the Moon, Twenty Thousand Leagues
under the Sea
- H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine, The Island of Dr. Moreau, The War of the Worlds
Why did science fiction become so popular?
- These authors and many imitators published their stories in cheap illustrated magazines with
mass circulations
o Consequently, science fiction immediately entered popular culture
Who is Charles Darwin? What is his most famous work? What is his theory?
- Famous for On the Origin of Species in 1859
o Carried the mechanical interpretation of physical nature into the world of living things
o One of the seminal works of Western thought
o Did NOT originate the concept of evolution
- Separately but along with Alfred Russel Wallace, he formulated variations of the principle of
natural selection, which explained how species had changed or evolved over time
o More living organisms come into existence that can survive in their environment
o Those organisms with a marginal advantage in the struggle for existence live long
enough to propagate
o Principle of the survival of the fittest -> natural selection
Which earlier scientists/philosophers influenced Darwin?
- Alfred Russel Wallace came to many of the same conclusion as Darwin independently and
based on his own field research
- Geologist Charles Lyell published Principles of Geology and developed the older theory of
o Holds the same natural laws that govern the universe in the present have always
governed the universe, and that they are consistent across both time and space
o Holds that change is gradual and uniform
o Theory of gradual change and of using present-day observation to explain
phenomenon in the deep past profoundly influenced Charles Darwin
Explain Darwin’s work The Descent of Man:
- 1871; Darwin applied the principle of evolution by natural selection to human beings
o Contended that humankind’s moral nature and religious sentiments, as well as its
physical frame, had developed naturalistically largely in response to the requirements
of survival
o Neither the origin nor the character of humankind required the existence of god for
their explanation
How was his work received?
- Controversial from the moment On the Origin of Species appeared
- Encountered criticism from both the religious and scientific communities
o Scientists later widely accepted the concept of revolution, but not yet Darwin’s
mechanism of natural selection
o Acceptance of the latter really dates from the 1920s and 1930s when Darwin’s theory
was combined with modern genetics
Who/What was some of the opposition to Social Darwinism?
- Social Darwinism: the application of Darwin’s concept of “the survival of the fittest” to explain
evolution in nature to human social relationships
- Thomas Henry Huxley was the great defender of Darwin
o 1893: Huxley declared that the physical process of evolution was at odds with human
ethical development
o Struggle in nature only showed how human beings should not behave
How was the church and Christianity doing during the nineteenth century?
- 19th century was one of the most difficult periods in the history of organized Christian churches
o Many European intellectuals left the faith
o Secular, liberal nation-states attacked the influence of the church
o Expansion of population and the growth of cities challenged its organization capacity
- The Protestant and Catholic Churches continued to draw popular support and personal
religious devotion
The intellectual attack on Christianity happened at a few levels, please explain the parties involved and
what they wrote/claimed.
- 1835: David Friedrich Strauss published The Life of Jesus, in which he questioned whether the
Bible provides any genuine historical evidence about Jesus
o Contended the story of Jesus is a myth that arose from the particular social and
intellectual conditions of first-century Palestine; his character and life represent the
aspirations of the people of that time and place, rather than events that actually
- Julius Wellhausen in Germany
- Ernst Renan in France
- Matthew Arnold in Great Britain
o They all contended that human authors had written and revised the books of the Bible
with the problems of Jewish society and politics in mind
o Questioned the historical validity of the Bible -> caused more illiterate men and women
to lose faith in Christianity than any other single cause
- 19th century science undermined Christianity and faith in the validity of biblical narratives
- Geology of Charles Lyell suggested the earth is much older than the biblical records contend
o Removed the miraculous hand of God from the physical development of the earth
o Darwin’s theory cast doubt on the Creation
- Anthropologists, psychologists, and sociologists proposed that religious sentiments are just
one more set of natural phenomena
- Intellectuals questioned the morality of Christianity
o Issue of immoral biblical stories war raised again
o Morality of the Old Testament God, his cruelty and unpredictability, did not fit well with
the tolerant rational values of liberals
o Wondered about the morality of the New Testament God, who would sacrifice for his
own satisfaction the only perfect being ever to walk the earth
o Clergy even began to wonder if they could preach doctrines they felt to be immoral
- Writers, such as Friedrich Nietzsche in Germany, portrayed Christianity as a religion that
glorified weakness rather than the strength life required
o Christianity demanded a useless and debilitating sacrifice of the flesh and spirit rather
than heroic living and daring
- Skeptical currents created a climate in which Christianity lost much of its intellectual
o Fewer educated people joined the clergy; found that they could live with little or no
reference to Christianity
o Secularism of everyday life proved as harmful to the faith as the direct attacks
During the late 19th century, what was the relationship between Church and state in:
Great Britain:
- Education Act of 1870 provided for state-supported schools run by elected school boards,
whereas earlier the government had given small grants to religious schools
- New schools built in areas where the religious denominations did not provide satisfactory
o All the churches opposed improvements in education because these increased the costs
of church schools
- Education Act of 1902 -> government provided state support for both religious and nonreligious
schools but imposed the same educational standards on each
- Dual system of Catholic and public schools
- Falloux Law of 1850 -> local priests provided religious education in public schools
- Between 1878 and 1886, a series of educational laws sponsored by Jules Ferry replaced religious
instruction in the public schools with civic training
o Number of public schools expanded, members of religious orders could no longer teach
in them
- After the Dreyfus affair, the French Catholic Church paid a price for its reactionary politics
o Radical government of Pierre Waldeck-Rosseau, drawn from pro-Dreyfus groups,
suppressed the religious orders
- 1905 -> church and state were formally separated
- Kulturkampf (clash of civilizations) pitted Bismarck and German liberals against the Catholic
Church in Germany
o The conflict was more political than religious in the beginning
o Bismarck and German liberals had different reasons for being suspicious of the power
of the Roman Catholic Church in Germany
o Bismarck was suspicious of the loyalties of the many Polish-speaking Catholics in
o Liberals were appalled by the Pope’s pronouncement of papal infallibility in 1870;
thought Catholics represented a “backward” opposition to progress
 Both feared the power of the Catholic Church within unified Germany
o 1870-1871, Bismarck removed the clergy from overseeing local education in Prussia
 This secularization of education represented the beginning of a concerted
attack on the Catholic Church in Germany
- “May Laws” of 1873, which applied to Prussia but not to the entire German Empire, required
priests to be educated in German schools and universities and to pass state examinations
o State could veto the appointments of priests
o Legislation abolished the disciplinary power of the pope and the church over the clergy
and transferred it to the state
o Many of the clergy refused to obey -> new laws allowed their property to be seized,
they pay to be stopped, and for them to be held in prison
o Thousands of priests and bishops were arrested or exiled from Prussia
- By the end of 1870, Bismarck had abandoned his attack on the Catholic Church
o Gained state control of education and civil laws governing marriage only at the price of
provoking Catholic resentment against the German state
o Found that the Center Party made an even better ally than the liberals
Resistance of Catholics to measures taken against their priests made the Kulturkampf
unwinnable; a realignment of German politics made winning it unnecessary
Were there any areas of Europe that experienced a revival of religion? How so?
- The German Catholic resistance to the intrusions of the secular state illustrates the continuing
vitality of Christianity during this period of the intellectual and the political hardship for the
o In Great Britain, both the Anglican Church and the Nonconformist denominations
expanded and raised vast sums for new churches and schools
- In France, after the defeat by Prussia, priests organized special pilgrimages to shrines for
thousands of penitents who believed France had been defeated because of their sins
o Cult of the miracle of Lourdes grew
Was the Roman Catholic Church trying to change/adapt to the “new world”? If so, in what ways?
- Final effort to Christianize Europe failed only because the population of Europe had outstripped
the resources of the church
- Resilience of the papacy
- Pope Pius IX vanished when he fled the turmoil of Rome in November 1848
o 1860s; launched a counteroffensive against liberalism
o 1864: issued the Syllabus of Errors
o 1869: summoned the First Vatican Council (ended in 1870); promulgated the dogma of
papal infallibility when speaking officially on matters of faith and morals
- Pope Pius was succeeded by Leo XIII
o Sought to make accommodations to the modern age and to address its great social
o Most important pronouncement on public issues was the encyclical Rerum Novarum
(1891); defended private property, religious education, and religious control of marriage
laws, and he condemned socialism and Marxism, but also declared that employers
should treat their employees justly, pay them proper wages, and permit them to
organize labor unions
o Urged that modern society be organized in corporate groups that would include people
from various classes who could cooperate according to Christian principles
- Successor Pius X hoped to resist modern thought and restore traditional devotional life
o 1903-1907: condemned Catholic modernism, a movement of modern biblical criticism
within the church, and in 1910 he required all priests to take an anti-Modernist oath
o Struggle between Catholicism and modern thought resumed
What is papal infallibility?
- The doctrine that the pope is infallible when pronouncing officially in his capacity as head of the
church on matters of faith and morals, enumerated by the First Vatican Council in 1870
Was Christianity the only religion facing trouble during the 19th century? How did Islam compete with
modern European thought?
- Interpreted Islam as a historical phenomenon without any reference to the supernatural, and
the Qur’an received the same kind of critical historical analysis that was being directed toward
the Bible
- European racial and cultural outlooks that denigrated nonwhite peoples and their civilizations
were also directed toward the Arab world
- Christian missionaries reinforced anti-Islamic attitudes
o Blamed Islam for Arab economic backwardness, for mistreating women, and for
condoning slavery
Within the Islamic world, as political leaders continued to champion Western scientific
education and technology, they confronted a variety of responses from religious thinkers
o Sought to combine modern thought with Islam
Were there any major conflicts or problems?
- Outlook that originally sought to reconcile Islam with the modern world eventually led many
Muslims in the 20th century to oppose Western influence
- Other Islamic religious leaders simply rejected the West and modern thought
19th Century Science; moving toward a 20th century frame of mind:
Is it revolutionary?
Ernst Mach
Published The Science
Urged that scientists
of Mechanics
consider their concepts
descriptive not of the
physical world, but of
the sensations the
scientific observer
experiences; could
describe only the
sensations, not the
physical world that
underlay those
Hans Vaihinger
1911, suggested the
Scientists saw
concepts of science be
themselves as
considered “as if”
recording the
descriptions of the
observations of
physical world
instruments and as
offering useful
hypothetical or
symbolic models of
Wilhelm Roentgen
December 1895,
Major steps taken in
published a paper on
the exploration of
his discovery of X-rays, radioactivity
a form of energy that
penetrated various
opaque materials
Henri Becquerel
1896, discovered that
J.J. Thomson later
uranium emitted a
formulated the theory
similar form of energy
of the election (the
(as X-rays)
next year)
Interior world of the
atom had become a
new area for human
Ernest Rutherford
1902, explained the
Speculated on the
cause of radiation
immense store of
How was it received?
Along with Henri
Poincaré, urged that
the theories of
scientists be regarded
as hypothetical
constructs of the
human mind rather
than as true
descriptions of nature
By World War I, few
scientists believed they
could portray the
“truth” about physical
Ideas were viewed on
by later scientists
Ideas were viewed on
by later scientists
Ideas were viewed on
by later scientists
Albert Einstein
Sigmund Freud
through the
disintegration of the
atoms of radioactive
1905, published his first
epoch-making papers
on relativity in which he
contended that time
and space exist not
separately, but rather
as a combined
Sought to apply the
critical method of
science to the study of
psychic disorders
1897; formulated a
theory of infantile
sexuality, according to
which sexual drives and
energy already exist in
infants and do not
simply emerge at
Examined the psychic
phenomena of dreams;
believed the seemingly
irrational content of
dreams must have a
reasonable, scientific
- During the
waking hours,
the mind
represses or
censors certain
wishers, which
are as
important to
the individual’s
make up as
thought is
energy present in the
Measurement of time
and space depends on
the observer as well as
the entities being
Ideas were viewed on
by later scientists
Questioned in the most
radical manner the
concept of childhood
Concluded that dreams
allow unconscious
wishes, desires, and
drives that had been
excluded from
everyday conscious life
to enjoy freer play in
the mind
- The
of Dreams
New model of the
internal organization of
the mind as an arena of
struggle and conflict
among three entities:
the id, the superego,
and the ego
- Id: consists of
instincts for
and general
physical and
Collaborated with Josef
Breuer, and in 1895,
they published Studies
in Hysteria
Everyday behavior
displays the activity of
the personality as its
inner drives are
partially repressed
through the ego’s
coping with external
moral expectations, as
interpreted by the
Was the son of the
- A realist who
wanted human
beings to live
free of fear and
illusions by
themselves and
their world
- Saw the
personalities of
human beings
as being
determined by
finite physical
and mental
forces in a finite
embodies the
external moral
imposed on the
personality by
society and
Ego: mediates
between the
impulses of the
id and the
asceticism of
the superego
and allows the
personality to
cope with the
inner and outer
demands of its
Werner Heisenberg
o 1927, set forth his uncertainty principle, according to which the behavior of subatomic
particles is a matter of statistical probability rather than of exactly determinable cause
and effect
19th Century Literature and Art:
What is it?
Portrayed the hypocrisy,
brutality, and the dullness that
underlay bourgeois life
Confronted readers with the
harsh realities of life; rejected
the romantic idealization of
nature, the poor, love, and
polite society and instead
portrayed the dark side of life
- Human beings as
subject to the passions,
the materialistic
determinism, and the
pressures of the
environment like any
other animals
The philosophical belief that
everything arises from natural
properties and causes, and
Examples (authors/artists)
Charles Dickens, Honoré de
Balzac, George Eliot
- Authors’ work included
imagination and
artistry, and a belief
that a better morality
was possible through
Christian or humane
- Saw society itself as
perpetuating evil
Gustave Flaubert, Émile Zola,
Henrik Ibsen (Norwegian
supernatural or spiritual
explanations are excluded or
The movement in the arts and
literature in the late 19th and
early 20th centuries to create
new aesthetic forms and to
elevate the aesthetic
experience of a work of art
above the attempt to portray
reality as accurately as possible
- Critical of middle-class
society and morality
- Not deeply concerned
with social issues
Instead of portraying religious,
mythological, and historical
themes, painters began to
depict modern life itself,
focusing on the social life and
leisure activities of the urban
middle and lower middle classes
Many of these artists were
fascinated with light, color, and
the representation through
painting itself of momentary,
largely unfocused, visual
- Curious and artistically
A term used to describe
European painting that
followed impressionism; the
term actually applies to several
styles of art all of which to some
extent derived from impression
or stood in reaction to
A radical new departure in early
20th century Western art
- Echoes the art of
ancient Egypt, medieval
primitives, and Africa
- Represented only two
dimensions in their
- Attempted to include at
one time on a single
Walter Pater (English essayist),
Bloomsbury Group (authors
Virginia Woolf, Leonard Woolf,
artists Vanessa Bell, Duncan
Grant, historian and literary
critic Lytton Strachey, and
economist John Maynard
Keynes), Marcel Proust,
Thomas Mann, James Joyce
Édouard Manet Renoir, Claude
Monet, Camille Pissaro, PierreAuguste Renoir, Edgar Degas
Georges Seurat, Paul Cézanne,
Vincent Van Gogh, Paul
This term was first coined to
describe the paintings of Pablo
Picasso and Georges Braque
surface as many
different perspectives,
angles, or views of the
object painted as
“Reality” was the
construction of their
experience of multiple
Sought to redirect the
artistic portrayal of
reality in the same
manner that modernists
in literature had
reshaped the portrayal
of social and moral
experience and the new
physics had
reconceptualized nature
Who is Friedrich Nietzsche?
- German philosopher
Did he agree with the thoughts and progress of the 19th century? Why or why not?
- questioned the adequacy of rational thinking to address the human situation
o Wholly at odds with the values of the age and attacked Christianity, democracy,
nationalism, rationality, science, and progress
o Sought less to change values than to probe their sources in the human character
o The Birth of Tragedy: urged that the non-rational aspects of human nature are as
important and noble as the rational characteristics
o Insisted on the positive function of instinct and ecstasy in human life; to limit human
activity to strictly rational behavior was to impoverish human life
- The strength for the heroic life and the highest artistic achievement arises from sources beyond
- He announced the death of God and proclaimed the coming of the Superman, who would
embody heroism and greatness
o Term was frequently interpreted as some mode of super human or super race, but such
as not Nietzsche’s intention
o Critical of contemporary racism and anti-Semitism
o Sought a return to the heroism that he associated with Greek life in the Homeric age
- Thought the values of Christianity and of bourgeois morality prevented humankind from
achieving life on a heroic level
- Drew on the Romantic tradition
What are some of his most profound works?
- The Birth of Tragedy: urged that the non-rational aspects of human nature are as important and
noble as the rational characteristics
- Thus Spake Zarathustra: criticized democracy and Christianity
- Beyond Good and Evil (1886) and The Genealogy of Morals (1887)
Sought to discover not what is good and what is evil, but the social and psychological
sources of the judgement of good and evil
o Questioned whether morality itself was valuable; his view was that morality was a
human convention that had no independent existence
 This discovery liberated human beings to create life-affirming values instead
How was he received by other thinkers of the time period? Did people generally accept him? Or did
they question his sanity?
- Felt that Christianity, utilitarianism, and middle-class respectability could in good conscience,
be abandoned
o Human beings could then create a new moral order that would glorify pride,
assertiveness, and strength rather than meekness, humility, and weakness
- 19010: Freud gathered a small group of disciples
o Early followers moved toward theories which Freud disapproved
o Carl Jung, a Swiss, was regarded by Freud as his most promising student; questioned
the primacy of sexual drives in forming personality and in contributing to a mental
disorder, put less faith in reason
 Believed the human subconscious contains inherited memories from previous
generations and that these collective memories, as well as the personal
experience of an individual, constitute his or her soul
 Regarded human beings in the 20th century as alienated from these useful
collective memories; more dependent on romanticism
Retreat from Rationalism in Politics:
19th century liberals and socialists agreed that education would improve the human condition, but 20th
century political scientists disagree… WHY?
Max Weber
German sociologist who
regarded the emergence of
rationalism throughout society
as the major development of
human history
- Opposed Marx’s
concept of the
development of
capitalism as the
driving force in modern
Georges Sorel
In his Reflections on Violence, he
argued that people do not
pursue rationally perceived
Rationalization displayed itself
in the rise of both scientific
knowledge and bureaucratic
- Bureaucratization as the
basic feature of modern
social life
- Believed that in modern
society people derive
their own self-images
and sense of personal
worth from their
positions in such
- Noneconomic factors
might account for major
developments in human
Count Arthur de Gobineau
Houston Stewart Chamberlain
goals but are led to action by
collectively shared ideals
A reactionary French diplomat
who enunciated the first
important theory of race as the
major determinant of human
An Englishman (moved to
Germany) who drew together
strands of racial thought into
two volumes of his Foundations
of the Nineteenth Century (1899)
- Anti-Semitic
- Pointed to the Jews as
the major enemy of
European racial
In his four-volume Essay on the
Inequality of the Human Races,
Gobineau portrayed the
troubles of Western civilization
as the result of the long
degeneration of the original
white Aryan race
- Claimed it had unwisely
intermarried with the
inferior yellow and black
races, thus diluting the
greatness and ability
that originally existed in
its blood
- No way to reverse this
Championed the concept of
biologically determinism
through race but believed that
through genetics the human
race could be improved and
even that a superior race could
be developed
Anti-Semitism and the Birth of Zionism:
Where/when did the term racism evolve? (p. 604)
- Nationalists who often redefined nationality in terms of race and blood
o New nationalism opposed the internationalism of both liberalism and socialism
o Nationalism of this aggressive, racist variety became the most powerful ideology of
early 20th century
- People were convinced that white Europeans were racially superior to the peoples of color
whom they governed
What is anti-Semitism? How/when did this become a major factor in European politics?
- Religious anti-Semitism dated from at least the Middle Ages
- Since the French Revolution, West European Jews had gradually gained entry into civil life
o Popular anti-Semitism, however, survived with the Jewish community being identified
with money and banking interests
 During the last third of the century, as finance capitalism changed the
economic structure of Europe, many non-Jewish Europeans threatened by the
changes became hostile toward the Jewish community
Were there specific events in each country that fueled the anti-Semitic fires?
- Vienna: Major Karl Lueger used anti-Semitism as a major attraction for his Christian Socialist
Germany: ultraconservative Lutheran chaplain Adolf Stoecker revived anti-Semitism
Dreyfus Affair
o French Captain Alfred Dreyfus was accused for espionage; imprisoned between 18941906
 Hardcore political fighting and racism during his imprisonment
 Want of a homeland
o Emile Zola spoke up for Captain Dreyfus, was accused of libel, but proved that Dreyfus
wasn’t the one sending the letters about French tactics
o Huge French event that exposed racism and the using of Jews as scapegoats
Who is Theodor Herzl? What did he do/want?
- Zionist: the movement to create a Jewish state in Palestine (the Biblical Zion)
- The conviction of 1894 of Captain Dreyfus and the election of Karl Lueger in 1895 as mayor of
Vienna, as well as personal experiences of discrimination convinced Herzl that liberal politics
and the institutions of the liberal state could not protect the Jews in Europe or ensure that they
would be treated justly
What and where is the “Jewish State”? (p.607)
- 1896 book published by Herzl
- Called for a separate state in which all Jews might be assured of those rights and liberties that
they should be enjoying in the liberal states of Europe
o Followed the tactics of late-century mass democratic politics by directing his appeal
particularly to the poor Jews who lived in the ghettos of Eastern Europe and the slums
of Western Europe
o Combined a rejection of the anti-Semitism of Europe and a desire to realize some of the
ideals of both liberalism and socialism in a state outside Europe
Women in Modern thought:
With Suffragettes still fighting, what were the anti-Feminist doing?
- Many late-century thinkers and writers of fiction often displayed fear and hostility toward
women, portraying them as creatures susceptible to overwhelming and often destructive
feelings and instincts
- Reinforced the traditional view of women as creatures weaker and less able than men
- London 1860: The Ethnological Society excluded women from its discussions on the grounds
that the subject matter of the customs of primitive peoples was unfit for women and that
women were amateurs whose presence would lower the level of the discussion
- Male scientists believed that women should not discuss reproduction or other sexual matters
How were women reacting to the new 20th century thought?
- Distinguished women psychoanalysts, such as Karen Horney and Melanie Klein, would later
challenge Freud’s views on women
- Other writers would try to establish a psychoanalytic basis for feminism
New Directions in Feminism:
What were some new things women fought for?
- Organizations redefined ways of thinking about women and their relationships to men and
society; few of these groups were large, and their victories were rare
Sexual Morality and the Family:
How did English women and men respond to the Contagious Diseases Act?
- 1864-1886; English prostitutes were subject to the Contagious Diseases Acts
Police in certain cities with naval or military bases could require any woman identified
as, or suspected of being, a prostitute to undergo an immediate internal medical
examination for venereal disease
 Those found to have the disease could be confined for months to locked
hospitals without legal recourse
o law took no action against their male customers
 purpose of the laws was to protect men, presumably sailors and soldiers, and
not the women themselves, from infection
What did this act do to women overall?
- Angered English middle-class women
- This act assumed that women were inferior to men and treated them as less than rational
human beings, denied to poor women the freedoms that all men enjoyed in English society
What were some women’s groups forming in the early 20th century? Who were some leading feminists?
- 1869: the Ladies’ National Association for the Repeal of the Contagious Diseases Acts, a
distinctly middle-class organization led by Josephine Butler, began actively to oppose those
o Achieved the suspension of the acts in 1883 and their repeal in 1886
- Vienna 1890s: General Austrian Women’s Association, led by Auguste Fickert, combated the
legal regulation of prostitution, which would have put women under the control of police
- Germany: the Mothers’ Protection League contended that both married and unmarried
mothers required the help of the state, including leaves for pregnancy and child care
o Emphasized the need to rethink all sexual morality
- Sweden: Ellen Key, in The Century of the Child (1900) and The Renaissance of Motherhood (1914),
maintained that motherhood is so crucial to society that the government, rather than
husbands, should support mothers and their children
What were women doing to “define their own lives?”
- Feminists groups demanded the abolition of laws that punished prostitutes without
questioning the behavior of their customers challenged the double standard, and, by extension,
the traditional relationship of men and women in marriage
o Their views were that: marriage should be a free union of equals, with men and women
sharing responsibility for their children
- Supported wider sexual freedom for women, often claiming it would benefit society as well as
improve women’s lives
- Better education and government financial support for women engaged in traditional social
roles, whether or not they had the vote
- Within literary circles, feminist writers most clearly articulated problems
o Difficulties that women of both brilliance and social standing encountered in being
taken seriously as writers and intellectuals
o Virginia Woolf was concerned with more than asserting the right of women to
participate in intellectual life
 Asked whether women, as writers, must imitate men or whether they should
bring to their endeavors the separate intellectual and psychological qualities
they possessed as women
o Concluded that male and female writers must actually be able to think as both men and
women share the sensibilities of each