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Le personnel est politique: Médias, esthétique et politique de l'autofiction chez Christine Angot, Chloé Delaume et Nelly Arcan

Mercédès Baillargeon

Looking at questions of testimony, confession, trauma, sexuality, and violence in (semi-)autobiographical works, this book explores the coconstruction of personal and collective identities by women writers in the age of self-disclosure and mass media. In a time when literature is accused of being self-centered and overly narcissistic, women’s autofiction in France since the turn of the millennium has been received with controversy because it disrupts readily accepted ideas about personal and national identities, gender and race, and fiction versus autobiography. Through the study of polemical writers Christine Angot, Chloé Delaume, and Nelly Arcan, Mercédès Baillargeon contends that, by recounting personal stories of trauma and sexuality, and thus opposing themselves in opposition to social convention, and by refusing to dispel doubts regarding the fictional or factual nature of their texts, autofiction resists and helps redefine categories of literary genre and gender identity. This book analyzes concurrently the textual and sociopolitical implications that underlie the (de)construction of the autofictional subject, and particularly how these writers constantly redefine themselves through performance and self-fashioning made possible by media and technology. Moreover, this work raises important questions relating to the media’s complicated relationship with women writers, especially those who discuss themes of trauma, sexuality, and violence, and who also question the distinction between fact and fiction. Proposing a new understanding of autofiction as a form of littérature engagée, this work contributes to a broader understanding of the French publishing establishment and, of the literary field as a cultural institution, as well as new insight on shifting notions of identity, the Self and nationalism in today’s ever-changing and multicultural French context.


Mercédès Baillargeon is an assistant professor of French and Francophone Studies at the University of Maryland. Her research focuses on the aesthetics, ethics, and politics of twentieth- and twenty-first-century first-person narrative, the intersection between public/private spaces and discourses, and the (de)construction of personal and/or collective identities. She has contributed to several edited volumes, and has published in the journals Québec Studies,Women in French Studies and The Rocky Mountain Review of Language and Literature. She is coediting an upcoming special issue of the journal Contemporary French Civilization on “The Transnationalism of Québec Cinema and (New) Media” with Karine Bertrand (Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada). She is also a coeditor for a collection of essays on third-wave feminism in Québec, Remous, ressacs et dérivations autour de la troisième vague féministe, published by Éditions du Remue-ménage in 2011. Her current research explores the question of (post/trans)nationalism in Québec cinema of the new millennium.


PSRL 75, 2019. 206 pp.
ISBN: 978-55753-857-4 $45.00; E-Book available, $38.99.

Information last updated on March 6, 2019.

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