The death of the academic Françoise Basch, pioneer of feminist studies in France


Françoise Basch, in Paris, June 26, 2013.

University specialist in Anglo-Saxon literature at the origin of the first Group of feminist studies, Françoise Basch died at her home in Paris, on March 6, at the age of 92.

Granddaughter of the Dreyfusard Victor Basch, militant philosopher, pioneer of the League of Human Rights which he chaired from 1926 to his assassination by the Militia in 1944, Françoise Basch would have liked to follow the example of her ancestors, committed intellectuals . On the maternal side, she had a maternal grandmother, Anna (1877-1926), a Russian Jewish immigrant radiologist and gynecologist, and her husband, Marius Moutet (1876-1968), socialist minister in the governments of the Popular Front, who refused full powers to Pétain. On the paternal side, the no less imposing figures of Victor and Ilona Basch, victims of the Militia, his uncle the sociologist Maurice Halbwachs (1877-1945), who died in the camps, his father, Georges, doctor, volunteer who commits suicide the day after the armistice request in June 1940…

His mother, Marianne, also a doctor, seeks above all to protect her children – Françoise, born in 1930, and her brother, André, born in 1933 – from the chaos of war. She
opens a practice in Bollène (Vaucluse), entrusting the little ones to the Basch couple. Denounced, she manages to flee and recovers her children, hidden for a time in Dieulefit (Drôme), with the local pastor, before taking refuge in Switzerland.

In the wake of the Americans

With the end of the conflict, back in Paris, Françoise continued her studies while her mother, a committed gynecologist, fought for the liberalization of abortion and the wide distribution of contraception. If her brother can follow the family path, turning to medicine, Françoise will have to turn to the academic world, supposed to preserve her. She copes with it without following the peaceful path that is shown to her.

Married for a time, the young woman emancipated herself and was politically active in the newly created Unified Socialist Party, and supported the cause of Algerian independence, even hosting an actor from the National Liberation Front. English scholar, she is doing her thesis in London, which will be published both in English (Relative Creatures. Victorian Women in Society and the Novel, 1837-67Allen Lane, 1974) than in French (Victorian Women. Novel and society, 1837-1867, Payot, 1979), at a time when student Paris was on fire. A missed date. But in 1969, Françoise Basch joined the Institute of English Charles-V (Paris-VII), as a lecturer, then very quickly professor after her defense (1970).

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