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Reading for Change

Interactions between Text and Identity in Contemporary French Women’s Writing (Baroche, Cixous, Constant)

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Gill Rye

How does reading literature change our life? How does it change the way we see each other? In what ways can reading impact on who we are and what we will become?
Drawing creatively on major theorists from French and Anglo-American feminisms through psychoanalysis, sociology and psychology to contemporary literary theory, the author articulates reading as a process of change. Relations between text and reader, individual and collective identities, self and other, are thought through in a sustained development of a politics of reading based on the model of the dialogue. Without losing sight of diversity and subjectivity in reading, this book explores the transformative potential of literature through themes of loss, maternity and difference in original readings of some post-1980 French fiction. Anglophone readers are introduced to the rich œuvre of Christiane Baroche and to the accessible yet thought-provoking novels of Paule Constant (winner of the 1998 prix Goncourt) as well as to new critical analyses of Hélène Cixous’s later fictions.
Contents: Reading as a process of change – A politics of reading – Intersections of individual/collective identities – Themes of loss, maternity, difference – Original readings of fiction by Baroche, Cixous and Constant.