Marie Curie and the press

Marie Curie and the press

  • The Académie des Sciences is examining the candidacy of Mme Curie today

  • An Academic Tournament: Will a Woman Return to the Institute?

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Title: The Académie des Sciences is examining the candidacy of Mme Curie today

Author :

Creation date : 1911 -

Date shown: January 9, 1911

Dimensions: Height 57.8 cm - Width 42.8 cm

Technique and other indications: L’Excelsior: daily illustrated newspaper - news, literature, science, arts, sports, theaters, elegance.

Storage location: National City of Immigration History website

Contact copyright: © Public establishment of the Palais de la Porte Dorée.

The Académie des Sciences is examining the candidacy of Mme Curie today

© Public establishment of the Palais de la Porte Dorée.

To close

Title: An Academic Tournament: Will a Woman Return to the Institute?

Author :

Creation date : 1911 -

Date shown: January 9, 1911

Dimensions: Height 42.8 cm - Width 57.8 cm

Technique and other indications: L’Excelsior: daily illustrated newspaper - news, literature, science, arts, sports, theaters, elegance.

Storage location: National City of Immigration History website

Contact copyright: © Public establishment of the Palais de la Porte Dorée.

An Academic Tournament: Will a Woman Return to the Institute?

© Public establishment of the Palais de la Porte Dorée.

Publication date: January 2017

Heritage Curator, Head of Historical Collections, National Museum of the History of Immigration

Historical context

Marie Curie, woman of science

Maria Salomea Skłodowska was born on November 7, 1867 in Warsaw, Poland. She died in France, in Passy, ​​on July 4, 1934.

Unlike the many Poles who came to seek refuge in France after their attempts at revolution against the Russian tsars, Maria Skłodowska arrived in France because of her attraction to the sciences, which she studied at the Sorbonne University. The number of Polish students at the Sorbonne continued to increase, to the point that they obtained a pavilion in the Cité Universitaire in 1925.

In 1895, Maria Skłodowska married Pierre Curie and took his name. The couple are working on the radioactivity of uranium and radium, which they discover and from which they manage to extract pure 1 g. In 1903, the work of Pierre and Marie Curie and that of Henri Becquerel were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics.

If these scientific discoveries fascinate the public and receive a favorable reception, Marie Curie seems to arouse popular hatred, as evidenced by these images published in the newspaper The Excelsior January 9, 1911. With The Illustration, this daily is one of the first to cover the news from the day before thanks to some thirty photographs, requiring work in conjunction with agencies and numerous photographers.

Image Analysis

When the press gets involved ...

The portrait of Marie Curie makes the headlines of The Excelsior on January 9, 1911. She is depicted front-view and in profile, disheveled hair around a broad forehead, ringed eyes and pursed mouth. His features are emphasized in order to interpret them according to physiognomic theories, establishing a correspondence between a person's physical features and his character. Thus, his head is considered "mixed", while his brow bone is said to reveal "a nervous-bilious temperament", with "an active, combinative mentality, always in need of logical assumptions".

A letter from Marie Curie is also reproduced, in which she confirms her application to the Institut des sciences. According to her writing, Marie Curie would have a "taste for meditation, for solitude. A scrupulous and a little mystical conscience ”.

Public criticism focuses on Marie Curie: she is a woman, a scientist, and a stranger to boot. After the disappearance of her husband in an accident in 1906, the attacks against her are more vigorous, and The Excelsior contributes significantly to its stigma.

The two central pages and the last one are covered by two large captioned photographs. These are printed in full frame and surrounded by a thick black border. In one, Marie Curie and Édouard Branly, the inventor of the wireless telegraph, appear on the scales of a scale. The first, on the left shelf, is surrounded by vials, while the second acts as a counterweight. The debate ignites public opinion: "Will a woman enter the Institute? The latent question is really about gender equality.

Marie Curie continued her research and obtained her second Nobel Prize, this time that of chemistry, in 1911. Her career was however damaged by the controversy, insofar as she could not obtain a chair at the Sorbonne.

Interpretation

From scapegoat to republican icon

In 1911, Marie Curie presented her work in Brussels. She receives the esteem of Albert Einstein, as she is once again blamed in France. The press denigrates her by revealing her affair with her colleague Paul Langevin. French Action, journal designed by Charles Maurras, and Free Speech, by the anti-Semite Édouard Drumont, denounce the corruption of French society by the foreign presence, provoking a series of insults and threats against Marie Curie. A small committee, made up of Dreyfus scientists, Paul Painlevé and Raymond Poincaré, intervened to put an end to these attacks. Marie Curie seems to have crystallized an unconscious and collective anguish linked to war and the rejection of the foreigner.

It was not until 1914 that the image of Marie Curie changed, thanks to the creation of the Radium Institute and the recognition of the French army, which appointed her head of the mobile radiology service. In 1920, with the support of Doctors Regaud and Rothschild, she opened the Curie Foundation, dedicated to the treatment of cancer and whose notoriety is still current. In 1929, she founded a similar institute in Warsaw.

Marie Curie is gradually becoming an icon of science and women's rights. In 1995, her remains were transferred to the Pantheon: the story of this scientist becomes symbolically representative of the values ​​of the Republic.

  • immigration
  • women
  • medicine
  • Poincaré (Raymond)
  • allegory
  • Curie (Marie)
  • caricature
  • womens rights
  • gender equality
  • Maurras (Charles)
  • public opinion
  • hurry
  • stereotype
  • xenophobia
  • Drumont (Edouard)
  • Academy of Sciences

Study in partnership with:

Bibliography

CASALI Dimitri, SCHIFFER Liesel, These immigrants who made France, Geneva, Aubanel, 2007.

ORY Pascal (dir.), Dictionary of foreigners who made France, Paris, Robert Laffont, coll. “Books”, 2013.

PONTY Janine (dir.), Polonia: Poles in France from 1830 to the present day, cat. exp. (Paris, 2011), Paris, Cité nationale de l'Histoire de l'Immigration / Montag, 2011.

To cite this article

Magdalena RUIZ MARMOLEJO, "Marie Curie and the press"

Glossary

  • Academy: the Institut de France was created by the law of 25 October 1795 on the organization of public education.In the Palace of the Institut de France, five academies work: the Académie française (founded in 1635) the Académie des inscriptions et belles-lettres (founded in 1663) the Académie des sciences (founded in 1666) the Académie des beaux-arts (created in 1816 by the meeting of the Académie de peinture et de sculpture, founded in 1648, of the Academy of Music, founded in 1669 and of the Academy of Architecture, founded in 1671) the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences (founded in 1795, abolished in 1803 and re-established in 1832) Source: http: //www.institut-de-france.fr/fr/une-institution-de-la-république

  • Video: Marie Curies Affair.. and the Duels That Followed