French and Italian | Ecrits feminins (1960-Present)
F451 | 2653 | Berkvam

Topic: Sexualité et féminisme

This course will study various expressions in the novel by women who
look at issues that remain central to women's roles, women's lives and
women's rights in the present time. I have chosen novels published
within the past twenty years in order to show how these themes remain
as current today as they were when, in 1949, Simone de Beauvoir
published Le Deuxième sexe. The writers we will discuss span
the francophone map from Europe to Africa to North America. We
will discuss two writers from France: Marie Cardinal's Amour...
amours and Annie Ernaux' L'Evénement and Passion
simple; from North Africa (Algeria specifically): Leïla Sebbar's
Shérazade and Assia Djebar's L'Amour, la fantasia; from
sub-Saharan Africa: Calixte Beyala's C'est le soleil qui m'a
brûlée; from Québec: Anne Hébert's Le Premier jardin; and
from Belgium: Jacqueline Harpman's Orlanda and Amélie Nothomb's
Stupeurs et tremblements. Although this is a long reading list,
most of these novels are less than 170 pp.

The goal of the course will be to analyze how these women, from
several countries and three continents, all writing in French, recount
the experience (often funny, often ironic, often tragic) of being
female. In addition, with the African and North American writers, come
questions of post-colonialism: what does it mean to be a woman writing
in French, educated in French and oftentimes in France, yet belonging
to another culture, another race, another ethnicity, another country
or continent? We will look especially at issues of relationships,
mother-daughter relations, the body, sexuality, pregnancy, abortion,
race, social and gender boundaries, feminism, etc. Each author brings
her unique perspective to these questions, and her unique writing
style to the narrative.

Students will write 3-4 papers on topics they will generate based on
their readings and our discussions of the novels. The format of the
course will be a (relaxed!) discussion with only a few formal lectures
to provide background and a brief history of women's writing in
French. Final grades will be based on the papers and on class
participation. The course will be conducted in French, with all
readings, discussions and written work in French.