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«Plaisirs de femmes»

Women, Pleasure and Transgression in French Literature and Culture


Edited By Maggie Allison, Elliot Evans and Carrie Tarr

Feminist approaches to questions of women, pleasure and transgression have generally been premised on the assumption that women’s pleasures are typically constrained – if not ignored, marginalized or forbidden – in patriarchal cultures. The naming, foregrounding and pursuit of women’s pleasures can therefore be deemed potentially transgressive and linked to women’s emancipation in other realms. The essays in this volume draw on a range of materials, from travel writing and the novel to film and stand-up comedy, addressing the specificity of French and Francophone approaches to women, pleasure and transgression across a range of historical contexts.

The volume is divided into three sections: intellectual and creative pleasures; normative pleasures, that is, pleasures conforming to women’s conventionally expected roles and status as well as to accepted views regarding race, national identity and sexuality; and perverse pleasures, that is, pleasures transgressive in their tendency to reject authority and norms, and often controversial in their «excessive» appetite for violence, sex, alcohol or food. In each case, questions are raised about how we approach such pleasures as feminist researchers, motivated in part by a desire to counter the notion of feminism and feminist research as something «dour» or joyless.

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Notes on Contributors


maggie allison is Honorary Senior Research Fellow in Modern French Studies at the University of Bradford. Her research and publishing cover gender, media, sexual harassment legislation and the role and televisual representation of women in politics and broadcasting. Her involvement in Women in French (UK) biennial conferences has led to her co-editing a number of volumes drawn from them.

dúnlaith bird is Senior Lecturer in English at the Université Paris 13. As well as her monograph, Travelling in Different Skins: Gender Identity in European Women’s Oriental Travelogues, 1850–1950 (Oxford University Press, 2012), she has published articles and chapters on Freya Stark, Isabella Bird and Isabelle Eberhardt, amongst others. Her research interests include vagabondage, postcolonialism and gender identity.

kate bonin is Assistant Professor of French at Arcadia University (Pennsylvania, USA). Her published research includes works on nineteenth-century Romanticism, transnational issues in Africa and the African diaspora, and French women writers from the Revolution to the present day.

chantal chawaf is the author of a substantial literary œuvre which embodies her passion for writing. Her texts meld the modern world in all its complexity and confusion with the internal, even visceral world of Chawaf the writer, whose mission is to explore and exploit the language of the body and of the senses.

rebecca j. deroo is Associate Professor in the Department of Performing Arts and Visual Culture at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Her most recent book, Agnès Varda...

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