Mary Louise Roberts

Position title: Senior Fellow (2010-2014)

History, UW-Madison


Liberators and Intruders: The American Presence in France, 1944-1946

My project examines the politics of sexual relations between American G.I.s and French women during the American military presence in France, 1944-1946. Erotic contacts, including heterosexual romance, prostitution, and rape, became the focus of controversy and debate between the US military and French officials. These debates, which occured in newspapers and official correspondance, in turn, anchored larger struggles for authority, including the breadth of US political power in Europe, and its moral role as a new global leader. At the same time, sexual issues served as a crucible for French resistance to rising American political dominance.

Mary Louise Roberts is the author of two books, Civilization without Sexes: Reconstructing Gender in Postwar France, 1918-1928 (1994) and Disruptive Acts: The New Woman in Fin de Siècle France (2002). Roberts has been the recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Institute for Advanced Study, and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. She has also received several teaching awards, most recently in 2008, the Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award. Articles from her current project, entitled Liberators and Intruders: The American Presence in France, 1944-1946, have appeared (or will appear) in Le Mouvement social, Tabur: Yearbook for European History, Society, Culture and Thought (in Hebrew), French Historical Studies, and the American Historical Review. Other articles on various subjects have also recently appeared in History and Theory, French Politics, Culture and Society, Entreprises et Histoires, Clio: Histoire, Femmes, Sociétes and Journal of Women’s History.