Women, Citizenship, and Sexuality

BookWomen, Citizenship, and Sexuality

Women, Citizenship, and Sexuality

The Transnational Lives of Renée Vivien, Romaine Brooks, and Natalie Barney


January 31st, 2021





Until well into the twentieth century, the claims to citizenship of women in the US and in Europe have come through men (father, husband); women had no citizenship of their own. The case studies of three expatriate women (Renée Vivien, Romaine Brooks, and Natalie Barney) illustrate some of the consequences for women who lived independent lives. To begin with, the books traces the way that ideas about national belonging shaped gay male identity in the nineteenth century, before showing that such a discourse was not available to women and lesbians, including the three women who form the core of the book. In addition to questions of sexually non-conforming identity, women's mediated claim to citizenship limited their autonomy in practical ways (for example, they could be unilaterally expatriated). Consequently, the situation of the denizen may have been preferable to that of the citizen for women who lived between the lines. Drawing on the discourse of jurisprudence, the history of the passport, and original archival research on all three women, the books tells the story of women's evolving claims to citizenship in their own right.

Author Information

Melanie C. Hawthorne is a Professor of French at Texas A&M University.