the three fates
Elles: Solidarity, Desire and Conflict between Women
121B :  Theme, Genre, Structures
Spring 2022
Class No: 30375
126 Wheeler
Will Burton

The feminist and lesbian movements of the 1970s imagined a utopia of solidarity between all women. But by the 1980s, many activists across the French– and English-speaking world determined that the mainstream movements’ treatment of decolonisation, language, race, and sexuality was inadequate and they founded their own groups. For the former, feminism represented the common will of womankind. But for the latter, the intersections between womanhood and other political issues sapped the viability of any singular definition of “woman.”

Both this utopian drive and critiques of it inspired innovative literary and cinematic depictions of women’s relationships to each other: in solidarity and conflict, in friendship and love, and across generations. In this course, we will study an international selection of such works and the urgent personal and political questions they raise. What do women owe one another? Where is the line between friendship and love? Is there a historical women’s and/or lesbian tradition? How does a heterosexual woman live a feminist life? Is lesbianism “the feminist solution”? How can white women and Black and Indigenous women work together? How to reconcile the demands of feminism and other ideologies (nationalism, socialism)?


Students must have either previously completed French 102 or its equivalent, or be concurrently enrolled in French 102. For additional placement information please see Placement Guidelines.

Tentative list of works to be studied in whole or in part:

Nicole Brossard, Amantes (poésies)
Maryse Condé, Moi, Tituba sorcière noire de Salem (roman)
Assia Djebar, Femmes d’Alger dans leur appartement (roman)
Naomi Fontaine, Kuessipan (roman)
Linda Lê, Les Trois Parques (roman)
Léa Pool, Anne Trister (film)
Céline Sciamma, Bande de filles (film)
Monique Wittig, Virgile, non (roman)

Image: Alexander Rothaug, Die drei Parzen, ca. 1910