Protean Selves: First-Person Voices in Twenty-First-Century French and Francophone Narratives

What does it mean to write “I” in postmodern society, in a world in which technological advances and increased globalization have complicated notions of authenticity, origins, and selfhood? Under what circumstances and to what extent do authors lend their scriptural authority to fictional counterparts? What role does naming, or, conversely, anonymity play vis-à-vis the writing and written “I”? What aspects of identity are subject to (auto)fictional manipulations? And how do these complicated and multilayered narrating selves problematize the reader’s engagement with the text?

Seeking answers to these questions, Protean Selves brings together essays which explore the intricate relations between language, self, identity, otherness, and the world through the analysis of the forms and uses of the first-person voice. Written by specialists of a variety of approaches and authors from across the world, the studies in this volume follow up a number of critical inquiries on the thorny problematic of self-representation and the representation of the self in contemporary French and francophone literatures, and extend the theoretical analysis to narratives and authors who have gained increasing commercial and academic visibility in the twenty-first century.

Adrienne Angelo is Associate Professor of French at Auburn University, USA. Her research focuses on life-writing narratives and practices in contemporary women’s writing in France and the Francophone world. She has published on authors such as Calixthe Beyala, Clémence Boulouque, Nina Bouraoui, Nathalie Gassel, Camille Laurens, Marie Nimier, Nina Bouraoui, and Nathalie Rheims.

Erika Fülöp is Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellow at the Interdiscinplinary Center for Narratology at the University of Hamburg. She has published a monograph entitled Proust, the One, and the Many: Identity and Difference in A la recherche du temps perdu (Oxford: Legenda, 2012) and articles on Proust and on contemporary fiction, including Éric Chevillard and Amélie Nothomb.

“This volume makes a significant contribution to debates concerning the evolving status of the ‘I’ in recent first-person narrative. Its studies of experimental writing by a range of French and Francophone authors offer a fascinating opportunity to reflect on the powerful sense of self that emerges both within literature and from literary encounter.”
—Shirley Jordan, Professor of French Literature and Visual Culture, Queen Mary University of London

“This excellent volume explores the multi-layered character of French and Francophone first-person narratives in the twenty-first century. The editors are to be congratulated on putting together a uniformly high-quality collection of fascinating critical case-studies on what it means to say ‘I’ in our postmodern, technological and globalized world.”
—Gill Rye, Professor Emerita and Director, Centre for the Study of Contemporary Women’s Writing, University of London

"This well-crafted collective volume comprising thirteen rich chapters has its roots in a Women in French (US) panel at the 2011 Northeast Modern Languages Association Annual Convention. The theme of the creation and mutation of selves runs throughout this thought-provoking collection, which does much to re-evaluate current trends in first-person writing. As such, this book will be of interest to the specialist literary scholar but also, more broadly, to the student of contemporary French and francophone culture."

—Dr Imogen Long, University of Hull; French Studies (70: 1)

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ISBN: 1-4438-6015-8

ISBN13: 978-1-4438-6015-4

Release Date: 26th August 2014

Pages: 210

Price: £44.99