Women and the City in French Literature and Culture

Reconfiguring the Feminine in the Urban Environment

Editor(s) Siobhán McIlvanney,Gillian Ni Cheallaigh

Language: English

Genre(s): Literary Criticism

Series: French and Francophone Studies

  • May 2019 · 336 pages ·216x138mm

  • · Paperback - 9781786834324
  • · eBook - pdf - 9781786834331
  • · eBook - epub - 9781786834348

About The Book

The city has traditionally been configured as a fundamentally masculine space. This collection of essays seeks to question many of the idées reçues surrounding women’s ongoing association with the private, the domestic and the rural. Covering a selection of films, journals and novels from the French medieval period to the Franco-Algerian present, it challenges the traditionally gendered dichotomisation of the masculine public and feminine private upon which so much of French and European literature and culture is predicated. Is the urban flâneur a quintessentially male phenomenon, or can there exist a true flâneuse as active agent, expressing the confidence and pleasure of a woman moving freely in the urban environment? Women and the City in French Literature and Culture seeks to locate exactly where women are heading – both individually and collectively – in their relationships to the urban environment; by so doing, it nuances the conventional binaristic perception of women and the city in an endeavour to redirect future research in women’s studies towards more interesting and representative urban destinations.


‘Ranging across centuries, continents and cultural media, this book explores with exceptional cogency and brio women’s ambivalent relationship with the masculine space of cities. Its chapters are splendidly well chosen, framed and edited to show how women, past and present, find multiple ways to engage creatively with cities, as social agents and as writers, readers and film-makers.’
-Diana Holmes, Professor of French, University of Leeds

‘This book will make an important and timely contribution to studies on the city in French literature and culture in its foregrounding of the fascinating and diverse negotiations of the city space by women. The study opens up their journeys in a lively and bracing way, and I think the volume will attract both lay and specialist readers.’
-Dr Susan Bainbrigge, University of Edinburgh


Series Editors’ Preface
List of illustrations
Notes on contributors
Introduction - Siobhán McIlvanney and Gillian Ni Cheallaigh
Part I. Images of the Flâneuse: Mediatic Representations of Women’s Relationship to the City
Chapter 1: A City for Young Ladies: The Parisian Flâneuse of the Journal des Demoiselles - Lucie Roussel Richard
Chapter 2: Unfolding the Domestic Interior: Women, Newspapers and the Nineteenth-Century City - Kathryn Brown
Chapter 3: Agnès Varda in Paris: The Urban Gaze of the Female Film-maker in Three Short Films - Jennifer Wallace
Chapter 4: Imagining on the Outskirts of the City: Duras’s Le Camion and the marcheuse - Sarah Cooper
Part II. From the Periphery to the Centre: Marginalised Re-Inscriptions of the Urban
Chapter 5: Morphologies of Becoming: Dehumanisation and Dandyism in Émile Zola’s Thérèse Raquin - Marina Starik
Chapter 6: Towards a Globalised Banlieue? Resilience through Literature in Three Narratives of the ‘Ultraperiphery’ - Nathalie Ségeral
Chapter 7: Marriage, Pregnancy and the City in Marie Darrieussecq’s Le Pays - Sonja Stojanovic
Chapter 8: Viewing the Algerian Cityscape in Nina Bouraoui’s La Voyeuse interdite and Leïla Sebbar’s ‘La Jeune Fille au balcon’ - Siobhán McIlvanney and Gillian Ni Cheallaigh
Part III. Gendered Spaces, Gendered Places: The Feminisation of the City Environment
Chapter 9: ‘For Their Trouble and Labour’. Women’s Work Reconsidered in Late Medieval Amiens - Julie Pilorget
Chapter 10: City, War and Politicisation in Journal à quatre mains by Benoîte and Flora Groult - Imogen Long
Chapter 11: C’est l’endroit qui nous a faits ainsi: Place, Gender and Belonging in Nathacha Appanah’s Blue Bay Palace and Ananda Devi’s Ève de ses décombres - Julia Waters
Chapter 12: Gendered Spaces of Ageing: The Liberations and Limitations of Urban Space in Annie Ernaux and Nancy Huston - Kate Averis

About the Editor(s)

Author(s): Siobhán McIlvanney

Siobhán McIlvanney is Reader in French and Francophone Women’s Writing at King’s College London.

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Author(s): Gillian Ni Cheallaigh

Gillian Ni Cheallaigh is a former Lecturer in French and Francophone Women’s Writing at King’s College London, and currently an independent researcher.

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