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Title: Monstrosity in post-1990 French women's writing : a case study of four authors
Authors: Gil, Cecilia Alexandra
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: The final decade of the twentieth century in France saw the emergence of a “new generation” of women writers who offered imaginative renegotiations of corporeal representation. Amongst these newly-created textual bodies, monstrous characters came to populate female-authored stories and presented multiple challenges, disturbing readers and social conventions of physical propriety. In this study, the challenge lies particularly in demonstrating how selected authors have envisaged monstrosity as a means of interrogating changing models of corporeal identity, especially when the subject is undergoing typical physical/psychological transformations of the human lifecycle. Literary and cultural critics have tended to regard the monster either as an insight into people’s perceptions of their time and social context, or as projections of fears and desires of the human psyche. Whilst most of these readings fail to consider both the social and individual domains where the monstrous intersects, I posit that monstrosity is most productively approached as an evocation of rejection of corporeal and behavioural difference, as it becomes visible to others and to the subject him/herself. I therefore combine a psychoanalytical approach (Julia Kristeva) and theories of power structures within social institutions (Michel Foucault) to decipher the resulting complex response of social and self-rejection of the monstrous subject. Focusing on four post-1990 French women writers – Régine Detambel, Louise L. Lambrichs, Lorette Nobécourt, and Amélie Nothomb – I explore how these authors have represented monstrosity in terms of limits and demands which are socially imposed on subjects and which are registered upon and circumscribe the body. These authors’ dual social and individual approach to the monstrous allows me to re-evaluate multiple contemporary anxieties around physical difference and bodily changes and gives monstrosity a new voice. I unveil how the texts analysed here creatively offer new spaces to re-think bodily difference and open up other possibilities for human subjectivity.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Modern Languages

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