This thesis argues for the cultural space of late nineteenth-century Parisian shopgirls as a position of power. The shopgirls' role in society is an ambiguous position connecting fashion consumer culture, class divides, gender and identity perceptions, and the workspace. Using James Tissot's Femme à Paris series, specifically the image Demoiselles de Magasin, and Emile Zola's novel Au Bonheur des Dames as primary sources, I examine the role of the shopgirl as a liminal position within the definition of the iconic 'La Parisienne' woman. By looking at women's work and the role of shopgirls in the boutique and department store world of fashion and consumerism, we can see how shopgirls' unique position gives historical significance to this kind of work. By looking at painting and literature as primary media, we can see how pervasive the shopgirl and La Parisienne imagery really at this time. Using a feminist approach, this thesis shows how the shopgirl occupies a particular social space for women in nineteenth-century France, perhaps even a somewhat influential position in Parisian culture, as she is a primary facilitator in the fashion world for transmitting 'taste'— a marketable branding tool of French fashion that permeates the iconic ideals of French fashion.
College and Department
Humanities; Comparative Arts and Letters
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Pusey, Elizabeth, "James Tissot's and Emile Zola's Shopgirl:The Working Girl as La Parisienne" (2016). Theses and Dissertations. 6119.
James Tissot, Emile Zola, la parisienne, shopgirl, Paris, Au Bonheur des Dames