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French Feminisms 1975 and After

New Readings, New Texts


Edited By 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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Introduction: Epistemologies, Politics, Fictions (Margaret Atack / Alison S. Fell / Diana Holmes / Imogen Long)


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Introduction: Epistemologies, Politics, Fictions

In 2015, the Women in French UK conference was devoted to ‘Les Femmes s’entêtent: Feminism, writing, art and film 1975–2015: bilan(s) et avenir(s)’. Les Femmes s’entêtent,1 a major collective feminist text and an unexpected bestseller, with nearly 30,000 copies sold,2 was a powerful statement that combined cultural and social analysis with literary texts; 2015 was the fortieth anniversary of its publication in paperback, and the opportunity to celebrate an extraordinarily creative moment in French feminist work was too good to be missed. The aim of the conference was to take forward the social, political and cultural agendas of this important volume. From a broad range of disciplinary perspectives, speakers offered a critical re-evaluation of a key moment in the history of feminism and women’s writing, not only by revisiting this and other texts but also by pursuing their various legacies in French and francophone writing, film and society, examining the strengths and limitations of these approaches as new questions and new conjunctures have come into play. We wanted to explore how theoretical and empirical developments in queer studies, transgender studies, postcolonial studies and postmodernist philosophies might have extended, inflected and challenged feminist work.

Fifty papers were accepted from the large number of proposals received and clusters emerged as areas in which colleagues were interested in offering critical readings:...

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