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«Parcours de femmes»

Twenty Years of Women in French


Edited By Maggie Allison and Angela Kershaw

This collection of essays celebrates twenty years of Women in French, a network of female academics working in the discipline of French Studies. Based on papers delivered at the group’s tenth biennial conference in Leeds, which was entitled ‘Le parcours’, the volume investigates the theme of trajectories in French and Francophone women’s lives and writings.
The book begins with consideration of the ways in which traces of women’s lives, experiences and texts are conserved in archives and communicated to new generations of readers through the practice of women’s biography. It then addresses the presence of women in public spaces such as journalism, politics and the street. The volume goes on to examine women’s representations in literary space and their use of imaginative writing to depict, interrogate and transform their life trajectories. It considers women’s movements through geographical space, looking at the intersections between gender and travel. With the inclusion of essays from a range of disciplinary perspectives, the volume highlights the variety of French and Francophone women’s contributions to society, culture and politics as well as celebrating the diversity of women’s contributions to the discipline of French Studies in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and Europe.


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Part I -Making Women Visible - 1


Part I Making Women Visible The volume begins with a consideration of some of the methodological issues raised by the study of women’s history and women’s cultural produc- tion. What are the particular challenges presented by women’s biography? What have the practice of women’s biography and feminist biography brought to the discipline? Siân Reynolds, whose work on French women’s history over the course of a long and distinguished career has defined the field, considers these questions in relation to Madame de Roland and Simone de Beauvoir. Caroline Verdier’s chapter raises important issues about the collection, preservation and creation of feminist knowledge. How are the resources which facilitate research on women’s lives conserved and made available? Verdier describes the establishment of two Francoph- one feminist libraries whose mission is to support research in the field of women’s history, taking the reader on a trajectory from the late nineteenth to the late twentieth century and beyond. Siân Reynolds Tracking Lives: Women’s Biography in Perspective In George Eliot’s novel Middlemarch (1871), the heroine, Dorothea Brooke, marries twice. Her trajectory is determined by her husbands’ priorities. During her first marriage, to the older but not wiser scholar, Edward Casaubon, she hopes in vain to help him with his academic work. Having next married for love the wayward but attractive Will Ladislaw, she turns into a political wife, for he becomes ‘an ardent public man’, working for reform. ‘Many who knew her’, the narrator remarks, ‘thought it a pity that so substantive and...

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