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Experiment and Experience

Women’s Writing in France 2000–2010

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Gill Rye and Amaleena Damlé

Experiment and Experience is a collection of critical essays on twenty-first-century women-authored literature in France. In particular, the volume focuses on how contemporary women’s writing engages creatively with socio-political issues and real-life experiences. Authors covered include well-established names, the ‘new generation’ of writers who first came to the fore of the French literary scene in the 1990s and whose work has now matured into an important œuvre, as well as new emerging writers of the 2000s, whose work is already attracting scholarly and critical attention. Within the overarching theme of ‘experiment and experience’, the contributors explore a range of issues: identities, family relations, violence, borders and limits, and the environment. They consider fiction, autobiography, writing for the theatre, autofiction and other hybrid genres and forms. Their analyses highlight difficult issues, refreshing perspectives and exciting new themes at the start of the new millennium and moving forward into the coming decades.

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Part I Writing (and) the Self

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Amaleena Damlé The Mutant Metamorphic Subject: Femininity and Embodiment in Virginie Despentes’s King Kong théorie The first decade of the new millennium has been witness to the ongoing re-evaluation of the political, social, economic and cultural imperatives of feminism, in France, as across the globe. In academic, practical, popular and everyday contexts, feminism continues to be hotly debated and con- tested, critically reassessed and reformulated as a means of thinking about the realities of contemporary female experience, and of assuring equality and agency for women into the twenty-first century. Yet, uncomfortably, feminism itself remains an uneasy term, often rejected as an aggressive attack on masculinity, or an unnecessarily bleak and humourless framing of social relations. Where feminism is not entirely cast aside or overlooked, it is in many contexts resisted as an outdated irrelevance in a contemporary society whose daughters seem increasingly and suspiciously detached from the (not so) historical legacy of women’s struggles for emancipation. As contemporary feminist thinkers and theorists attempt to articulate and to espouse a renewed sense of engagement with gender politics, they have set their concerns alongside and against previous forms of feminism, redefining their terms as the so-called third-wavers or through various multilayered and slippery perspectives refracted through the blurry lens of postfeminism. In France, contemporary feminism has been confronted in particular with the task of interrogating and redefining the reified notion of ‘French feminism’. To anglophone scholars, ‘French feminism’ connotes the early 1970s feminist writings of Hélène Cixous, Luce Irigaray...

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