salons

The Women of the French Salons

by Amelia Gere Mason

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Amelia Gere Mason developed Women of the French Salons by creating an archive of oral histories of women who participated in the salons. She also poured through letters, original manuscripts, memoirs and other writings of participants. Mason credits the salon culture with assisting French women in developing a strong culture of intellect, independence, knowledge and poise, which allowed for advances both individually—participating in salons helped elevate some women—and for France as a whole, as Mason argues, the salons encouraged modernity and new thought. In this work, Mason focuses on the years 1700-1900, roughly, and admittedly sacrifices some depth for breadth in illustrating how consequential salons were to culture over time. Despite her detailed research, little else is known of the life or work of Amelia Gere Mason.