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French Feminisms 1975 and After

New Readings, New Texts


Margaret Atack, Alison S. Fell, Diana Holmes and Imogen Long

This volume explores contemporary French women’s writing through the prism of one of the defining moments of modern feminism: the writings of the 1970s that came to be known as «French feminism». With their exhilarating renewal of the rules of fiction, and a sophisticated theoretical approach to gender, representation and textuality, Hélène Cixous and others became internationally recognised for their work, at a time when the women’s movement was also a driving force for social change. Taking its cue from Les Femmes s’entêtent, a multi-authored analysis of the situation of women and a celebration of women’s creativity, this collection offers new readings of Monique Wittig, Emma Santos and Hélène Cixous, followed by essays on Nina Bouraoui, Michèle Perrein and Ying Chen, Marguerite Duras and Mireille Best, and Valentine Goby. A contextualising introduction establishes the theoretical and cultural framework of the volume with a critical re-evaluation of this key moment in the history of feminist thought and women’s writing, pursuing its various legacies and examining the ways theoretical and empirical developments in queer studies, postcolonial studies and postmodernist philosophies have extended, inflected and challenged feminist work.

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3. Hélène Cixous’s L’Indiade ou l’Inde de leurs rêves: Gendering Memories of Colonialism in Algeria and India (Beatrice Ivey)


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3 Hélène Cixous’s L’Indiade ou l’Inde de leurs rêves: Gendering Memories of Colonialism in Algeria and India

Introduction: Cixous’s literary worlds

For Sandra M. Gilbert, reading Hélène Cixous and Catherine Clément’s 1975 La Jeune Née is like ‘going to sleep in one world and waking up in another’,1 highlighting the transformative process of reading these essays. Although Cixous’s essay ‘Sorties’ is considered to be one of the major texts contributing to the ‘French Feminism’ of the 1970s, it is worth asking from what other ‘worlds’ this essay emerges. Cixous highlights that her critical economy is one born out of her family’s German-Algerian Jewish heritage and an early life spent in the Manichean world of colonial Algeria:

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