Cathy McClive

Florida State University
Collegium de Lyon
6 months

Research interests: Social and Cultural History of Medicine, Embodiment, Gender, Sexualities, Early Modern France

Research Project

The disappearance of Claudine Rouge : rape, murder, and erasure in eighteenth-century France

The Claudine Rouge affair is better known, both in the eighteenth century and now, as the criminal case which sparked a high-profile, decades-long polemic in forensic medicine over the signs of drowning. Claudine herself is largely absent from surviving documents and historical accounts. But Claudine, a seventeen-year-old silk-worker’s daughter who disappeared from her parent’s home on the last day of the Corpus Christi festival in Lyon, 25 June, 1767, was more than a test-case for ancien-régime justice. She was a real person, with a real body, who suffered probable rape and murder, and whose family were left with painful decisions to make about how to seek justice for her in a society where convictions for rape were extremely rare, and family survival depended on reputations tied to sexual honour.

I draw on approaches developed in women’s, gender, and feminist history, and critical archive studies to re-centre Claudine in her story as an example of how we might write the history of gendered sexual violence and murder, restoring humanity to subjects who are often objectified, victimized, and silenced by the very archives which tell us of their existence, and by the questions scholars ask of those archives.


Cathy McClive, Ben Weider Chair of French Revolutionary Studies and Professor of History at Florida State University, works at the intersection of the history of gender and medicine. She is author of Menstruation and Procreation in Early Modern France (Ashgate, 2015), editor and translator of Marie Baudoin. The Art of Childbirth. A Seventeenth-Century Midwife’s Epistolary Treatise to Dr. Vallant (Iter, 2022) and co-editor with Nicole Pellegrin of Femmes en fleurs, femmes en corps: Sang, santé et sexualités du moyen âge aux lumières (Presses Universitaires Saint-Étienne, 2010). She has recently joined the editorial team of Clio Medica: Studies in the History of Medicine and Health published by Brill in affiliation with the European Association for the History of Medicine and Health.