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Sensational InternationalismThe Paris Commune and the Remapping of American Memory in the Long Nineteenth Century$
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J. Michelle Coghlan

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781474411202

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474411202.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 16 September 2021

Framing the Pétroleuse: Postbellum Poetry and the Visual Culture of Gender Panic

Framing the Pétroleuse: Postbellum Poetry and the Visual Culture of Gender Panic

(p.23) Chapter 1 Framing the Pétroleuse: Postbellum Poetry and the Visual Culture of Gender Panic
Sensational Internationalism

J. Michelle Coghlan

Edinburgh University Press

Both during the 1871 uprising and in the wake of the Commune’s fall, Americans encountered unsettling images of female Communards marching across the pages of illustrated periodicals. In turn, a variety of American sermons and editorials railed against the revolution and claimed its “overly emancipated” females might pose the most terrifying transatlantic threat of all. My opening chapter, “Framing the Pètroleuse,” recovers the drama of that postbellum gender panic and resituates post-bellum U.S. periodical poetry written in response to it. Reading Sarah M. B. Piatt’s 1872 periodical poem, “The Palace-Burner,” alongside both Harper’s Weekly’s pictorial coverage of the Commune and the subversive sentimentality of other post-bellum poetic returns to the fiery “Women of the Commune,” I argue that Piatt’s reworking of the figure of the Parisian petroleum-thrower relies on and resists the ways the so-called “man-women” of the Commune were pictured in the U.S. press. For in bringing the pétroleuse “into the parlor,” Piatt crucially re-imagines both the fiery Communardes and the specter of domestic firebrands they were so often used to portend.

Keywords:   Pétroleuse, Sarah Piatt, “The Palace-Burner”, Edward King, “A Woman’s Execution”, Gender Panic, Visual Culture, Nineteenth-century U.S. periodicals, Sufragists

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