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Bodies, Borders and Boundaries (Seminar Series Programme Women in French)

Bodies, Borders and Boundaries (Seminar Series Programme Women in French)

Publié le par Marc Escola (Source : Dominique Carlini Versini)

With the question of borders constantly in the news, most recently in relation to Ukraine, and the threat that borders pose to some bodies more than others, bodies and borders are an urgent site of investigation. This seminar series would like to explore the various images of bodies, borders, and boundaries in contemporary texts, art works, and films by francophone artists who identify as women. It will interrogate textual and visual representations of gendered bodies at borders, or indeed, becoming borders (Guénif-Souilamas 2010). The goal of this series is to ask and reflect on some of the following questions: In what ways do literary and visual representations challenge the mainstream narrative around borders and bodies? What types of borders and boundaries are present in contemporary fiction by women written in French? How do national borders frame and reshape the body? Is there a particularity in French and francophone women’s writing of the gendered body and/at borders?

The gendered body that this series is particularly interested in often inhabits a frontier, concretely and/or symbolically. As a result, concerns linked to identity stem from an analysis of borders and boundaries. For instance, Léonora Miano perceives the in-betweenness of the double identity of migrant women as powerful and potentially subversive (2012). For others, like Élodie Malanda (2014), living on the border (habiter la frontière) actually underscores a malaise resulting from cultural hybridity. Whether positive or negative, borderscapes (Brambilla 2015) are to be theorized as connective spaces that put one’s body in relation to the Other and thus question notions of interiority and exteriority. Considering the complexity of the position(s) of the gendered body, the liminality associated with borders and boundaries engenders essential and important avenues of consideration and experimentation by artists.

In this sense, the series encourages critical and creative proposals investigating the ways in which the body itself can be considered a boundary traversed, shaped, and (un-)done by its interaction with the world and the Other. Skin has often been conceptualised as the body’s border, “but as a border that feels” (Ahmed & Stacey 2001, loc. 311), forming both a protection of the interiority of the self and a point of contact with the world; always at risk of being trespassed, penetrated, or transgressed by the Other. Florence Bancaud and Susanne Böhmisch have gone further and coined the term “body-border” (corps-frontière) to think about the body itself as a living border. In that regard, it could be perceived as a menace to actual borders and would warrant expulsion and control. The seminar series envisages the ways in which the body can be thought of and represented as/at a border, as well as reflect on literary and visual explorations of bodily boundaries.

Seminar 1: Corps perméables et littérature (Tuesday 11 October 12pm [UK]/1pm [FR]/9pm [AUS])

  • « Transpersonnalité et traversée des corps chez Annie Ernaux et Simone de Beauvoir » Justine Muller (Université catholique de Louvain)
  • « Le corps de la mère chez Julia Kerninon, entre frontières intimes et politiques » Anastasia Scepi (Sciences Po Paris) 

Seminar 2: Borders Crossings and Spatial Boundaries I (Tuesday 8 November 12pm [UK]/1pm [FR]/9pm [AUS])

  • “Navigating ‘Exploded Spaces’: The Search for Footing, the Quest for Memory in

Lénablou, Brathwaite, Kanor, and Casérus”

Hadley Galbraith (Grinnell College)

  • “Breaking Celestial Borders: Bodily Resistance in Porte de la paix celeste (1997)”

Dakshayani Shankar (Emory University)

Seminar 3: Violence and Transgression of Bodily Boundaries (Tuesday 13 December 9am [UK]/10am [FR]/6pm [AUS])

  • “Boundary Issues: The Body and the Nation in the Work of Virginie Despentes”

Ally Pugh (King’s College London)

  • “Crossing Bodily and Moral Boundaries: Art and Abuse in Vanessa Springora’s Le Consentement (2020) and Loulou Robert’s Zone Grise (2020)”

Elena Rubini (Università del Piemonte Orientale)

  • “Beyond the Borders of Body Horror: Julia Ducornau’s Grave (2016) and Titane (2021)” Adina Stroia (Newcastle University)

Seminar 4: Borders Crossing and Spatial Boundaries II (Tuesday 10 January 9am [UK]/10am [FR]/6pm [AUS])

  • “‘Qu’est-ce que c’est d’avoir un corps de femme ?’ – Corporeality and Space in Leïla Slimani’s Le pays des autres (2020) and Regardez-nous danser (2022)”

Kathy Dillon (NUI Galway)

  • “Nomadism and Corporeality in Le Brun’s and Toyen’s Tout près, les nomades (1972)”

Beth Kearney and Victoria Souliman (University of New England and University of Sydney)

Seminar 5: Book launch (Tuesday 14 February 9am [UK]/10am [FR]/6pm [AUS])

  • Figures de l’excès chez Marie Darrieussecq, Virginie Despentes et Marina de Van : Ecrire et filmer le corps-frontière (Brill, Faux Titre series, 2023)

Dominique Carlini Versini (Durham University).