La direction de conscience au XIXe siècle (France, 1850-1914) : contribution à l’histoire du genre et du fait religieux

Caroline Muller 1
1 SysCom ERté - Equipe de Recherche Technologique pour l'éducation
SysCom - Laboratoire Systèmes Communicants
Abstract : Spiritual direction is a Catholic practice which regained currency in the second half of the nineteenth century: women and men would go through their lives and the movements of their souls with their director, with moral improvement and spiritual progression in mind. The Catholic Church established this practice as one of the vehicles for the transmission of a system of values which puts women at the heart of moral regeneration in France, by turning them into agents of conversion of their families. The resurgence of spiritual direction thus constitutes a pastoral response to the Catholic Church’s project to reclaim the French society, in times when its prerogatives met frequent protest. Yet, the directees’ projects cannot be limited to their directors’: spiritual direction grants access to practical and symbolic resources aiming at adjusting gender norms. The director is also solicited by couples from the French elite to be the go-between and referee of their conjugal life, with the greatest discretion as for their exchanges. The director’s role thus largely exceeds mere control of devotion practices, even though devotional manuals state this as a director’s main function. Even though directors go on fulfiling such a spiritual supervision until the 1880s, the directees’ expectations then bend toward a less spiritually-charged support, leading to conflicts. Such a transformation of the practice of spiritual direction must be linked to the general evolution of “technologies of the Self” (Foucault) and, especially, to the development of psychological medicine.
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Caroline Muller. La direction de conscience au XIXe siècle (France, 1850-1914) : contribution à l’histoire du genre et du fait religieux. Histoire. Université de Lyon, 2017. Français. ⟨NNT : 2017LYSE2086⟩. ⟨tel-02284921⟩

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