Readerly Dialogues: Reception, Intertextuality, and the Other in Contemporary French Women’s Writing
Date: 12 September 2017
University of Exeter
PhD in French
This thesis focuses on the reading of fiction written by contemporary French women authors, namely Julia Kristeva, Marie Darrieussecq and Monique Wittig, establishing the reader as an active and engaged actor in meaning creation. The reader enters into dialogue with the text, the author, the narrator(s) and the characters, carving out ...
This thesis focuses on the reading of fiction written by contemporary French women authors, namely Julia Kristeva, Marie Darrieussecq and Monique Wittig, establishing the reader as an active and engaged actor in meaning creation. The reader enters into dialogue with the text, the author, the narrator(s) and the characters, carving out an imaginative readerly space in fiction. The main aim of this thesis is to examine how this space comes into being, and what tools are needed for its exploration. Concepts from three main theoretical fields are used to set the parameters for this readerly space: reception studies, intertextuality, and theories of the other. As was observed by Elizabeth Fallaize, reception studies and women’s writing have not been meaningfully combined. This thesis responds to this gap in research, simultaneously expanding our interpretations of the texts by looking at the multitude of intertextual links that can be established, and at the way reading influences our relations to the other. The Introduction examines the above-mentioned three theoretical areas, alongside elements such as the tasks of the reader, the materiality of the book, and the impact of reading groups. Chapter One examines two of Kristeva’s most recent works of fiction — Meurtre à Byzance and Thérèse mon amour — studying the mise en abyme of reading and writing, the issues that can arise from extensive intertextual links and autobiographical projections, and introducing concepts such as the reading Carmel and the text as Trojan Horse. Chapter Two explores the Darrieussecq-ien aesthetic universe, starting with a consideration of the four different types of intertextuality identified in Darrieussecq’s fiction. Darrieussecq’s work with language is analysed, before introducing the concept of the fiction of honesty. The fiction of honesty allows us to explore the relationship of trust between the reader and the narrator, while an analysis of the inscriptions of time offers a better understanding of the chronologies of the reading process. Chapter Three investigates Wittig’s works, focusing on her linguistic innovations, rewriting of myths and foundational stories, extensive use of sensorial writing, and links established between fiction and socio-political activism. Chapter Four considers the media reception of the three authors, introducing resources that are not easily accessible to Anglophone audiences. The Conclusion offers an overview of the findings of this thesis, before opening onto further avenues for research.
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