Harsin, Jill 1951-

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HARSIN, Jill 1951-

PERSONAL: Born 1951. Education: Southwest Missouri State University, B.A., 1973; University of Iowa, M.A., 1974, Ph.D., 1981.

ADDRESSES: Offıce—Deptartment of History, Colgate University, 321 Alumni Hall, 13 Oak Dr., Hamilton, NY 13346. E-mail—[email protected].

CAREER: Oberlin College, Oberlin, OH, instructor, 1981-82; Colgate University, Hamilton, NY, professor of history, 1982—. French Historical Studies, consultant.


Policing Prostitution in Nineteenth-Century Paris, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 1985.

Barricades: The War of the Streets in RevolutionaryParis, 1830-1848, Palgrave (New York, NY), 2002.

SIDELIGHTS: Jill Harsin is a professor of history whose specialties include modern European history, social history, and women's history. Her Policing Prostitution in Nineteenth-Century Paris is a study of how an administrative system was established to control prostitution, ostensibly to protect public health and maintain order. Frances Gouda wrote in Women's Review of Books that "the prostitute was a cornerstone in the edifice of double standards and sexual prescriptions built by the state, and in an age of emerging industrial capitalism, she unwittingly reinforced the prevailing class structure by encouraging the public identification of working-class women with vice and immorality."

The police required that prostitutes submit to medical examinations, and if one was found to be suffering from disease, she was confined to the hospital section of the jail. In the extreme, Harsin notes, one Parisian doctor proposed that every unmarried woman in Paris who did not live with her parents be required to submit to a monthly exam. A colleague suggested that each prostitute be marked in some way in order to warn the unwary male. Gouda commented that "the ultimate implication of this growing obsession with sexuality and syphilis was that every woman, or at least every working-class woman, was a potential clandestine prostitute who had escaped the surveillance of the police and was beyond their control."

Prostitutes were encouraged to practice their trade in sanctioned houses which could be searched and where they could be supervised at the whim of the authorities. Philip Nord noted in Journal of Modern History that "Harsin's approach highlights bureaucratic ambition and ideology as the motor force propelling the regulatory system forward."

Harsin includes a chapter on Alexandre J. Baptiste Parent-Duchatelet, who felt that prostitution was a temporary situation for some poor women. Reviewing Policing Prostitution in Nineteenth-Century Paris in American Historical Review, Rachel G. Fuchs said that "although Harsin examines the professionalization of prostitution, one weakness is her failure to examine closely the issue of prostitutes' separation from, and possible reintegration into, working-class life. If society regarded them as criminal outcasts, as Harsin proposes, then it seems that their return to working-class life would be problematic, especially for the registered prostitute." Fuchs concluded by calling Harsin's work a "lucid and deftly written monograph."

Barricades: The War of the Streets in Revolutionary Paris, 1830-1848 is Harsin's study of the hard-left, predominantly male and working-class movement of the time that favored violence as a means of securing revolutionary change. Harsin notes that the Montagnard organizations went underground when the new king, Louis-Philippe, who had represented himself as a republican, came down on republican dissenters and restricted freedom of the press and of association. The Montagnards collected weapons and staged several failed attempts to overthrow Louise-Philippe between 1830 and 1848, with each resulting in arrests, trials, and even more repressive laws. The king abdicated in 1848, but the Montagnards felt the republican-leaning provisional government that remained to be too bourgeois. Another rebellion broke out in that same year, and once again the Montagnards suffered great losses. A Publishers Weekly reviewer wrote that Harsin "has written an exhaustively detailed, thoroughly researched account."



American Historical Review, June, 1986, Rachel G. Fuchs, review of Policing Prostitution in Nineteenth-Century Paris, pp. 677-678.

Choice, January, 1986, V. A. Caruso, review of Policing Prostitution in Nineteenth-Century Paris, pp. 782-783.

English Historical Review, April, 1988, Roger Magraw, review of Policing Prostitution in Nineteenth-Century Paris, p. 521.

History, June, 1987, James F. McMillan, review of Policing Prostitution in Nineteenth-Century Paris, p. 385.

Journal of Modern History, June, 1987, Philip Nord, review of Policing Prostitution in Nineteenth-Century Paris, pp. 384-387.

Publishers Weekly, May 20, 2002, review of Barricades: The War of the Streets in Revolutionary Paris, 1830-1848, p. 56.

Women's Review of Books, December, 1985, Frances Gouda, review of Policing Prostitution in Nineteenth-Century Paris, p. 14.*