A moody painting of the Three Fates weaving by Alexander Rothaug
ELLES: Solidarity, Desire, and Conflict between Women
121B :  Literary Themes, Genres, Structures
Spring 2024
Class No: 21401
William Burton
9:30 AM - 10:59 AM

All Work for This Class Conducted in French; Completion of FR102, Placement Exam, or Native Language Fluency Required for Enrollment.

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 have in common? What do they 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? Are motherhood and feminism compatible? 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 (socialism, nationalism)?

BOOKS Brossard, Nicole. L'Amèr, ou le chapitre effrité. Montréal: Typo, 2013 [1977]. Condé, Maryse. Moi, Tituba sorcière... Noire de Salem. Paris: Mercure de France, 1986. 978-2-07-037929-3. Fontaine, Naomi. Shuni: Ce que tu dois savoir, Julie. Montréal: Mémoire d’encrier, 2019. 978-2-89712-654-4. Wittig, Monique. Virgile, non. Paris: Editions de Minuit, 1985. 978-2-7073-1021-7. FILMS Pool, Léa. Anne Trister, 1986. Akerman, Chantal. Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles. 1975.