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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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About the author


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. She has co-edited a number of volumes drawn from the Women in French (UK) biennial conferences.

ELLIOT EVANS is Lecturer in Modern Languages at the University of Birmingham, researching feminist, queer and transgender theories. Publications include ‘“Wittig and Davis, Woolf and Solanas (...) simmer within me”: Reading Feminist Archives in the Queer Writing of Paul B. Preciado’ for Paragraph (2018) and Queer Permeability: The Body in French Queer Thought from Wittig to Preciado (2019).

CARRIE TARR, Emerita Professor of Film at Kingston University, has published extensively on ethnicity, gender and sexuality in French and Francophone cinema. Publications include Cinema and the Second Sex: Women’s Filmmaking in France in the 1980s and 1990s (with B. Rollet, 2001), Reframing Difference: Beur and Banlieue Filmmaking in France (2005) and a guest edited issue of Studies in French Cinema on ‘Women’s Film-making in France 2000–2010’ (2012).

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