(July 27, 2010) Wagner College professors Natalie Edwards and Christopher Hogarth published their second book this summer, titled “This ‘Self’ Which Is Not One: Women’s Life Writing in French.”
The book assembles articles on women’s life-writing from diverse areas of the Francophone world. It is comprised of nine chapters that discuss female writers from North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean and Europe, in addition to French writers.
The idea of the self is currently attracting widespread interest in academia, most notably in the arts and humanities. The development of postmodernism supposes a fragmented “subject” formed from the network of available discourses, rather than a stable and coherent self. Jacques Derrida, for example, wrote that there is no longer any such things as a “full subject,” and Julia Kristeva now insists that the individual is a “subject in process.”
The growing importance of psychoanalytic theory, particularly in French studies, has also impacted upon this development. The basic tenet of psychoanalytic theory is that the individual is formed of a duality, the conscious and unconscious parts of the self, which prevents the individual from ever fully knowing her or himself and which thus insists upon a plural, incomplete self.
“Developments in the field of postcolonial studies have also made us aware of different ways of approaching the self in different parts of the world, and eroded the idea of a stable, conscious and complete self,” Edwards said.
As scholars examine these new ways of approaching the self, autobiography has been the subject of renewed interest. Several academic books have appeared in recent years that study the ways in which autobiographers represent the self as incomplete, evolving and elusive. In particular, a number of books have appeared on the subject of women’s autobiography and female subjectivity, such those by Sidonie Smith, Julia Watson and Nancy Miller, and several volumes interrogate postcolonial women’s autobiography, such as texts by Françoise Lionnet, Gayatri Spivak, Carole Boyce Davies and Chandra Mohanty.
“Our volume unites these strands of criticism,” Hogarth said, “by examining ways that female autobiographies write the self as a fragmented, plural construct across the Francophone world. This will be the first book-length study of this important development.”
This volume will be of interest primarily to students and scholars working in the areas of life-writing, French and Francophone studies, postcolonial studies and gender studies. The volume contributes to multiple areas that are currently garnering substantial interest in academe: postcolonial studies, Francophone studies, gender studies and women’s writing.
“By comparing works from across the Francophone world, our volume takes a global approach to the genre of autobiography and its inflections by women writers,” Edwards said. “The book therefore represents a timely intervention in several interlinking academic fields and will thus garner substantial interest.”
For more about “This ‘Self’ Which Is Not One: Women’s Life Writing in French,” published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing, visit THE PUBLISHER'S WEBSITE.
NATALIE EDWARDS specializes in 20th century women’s writing in French, particularly in autobiography and Francophone studies. She obtained her Ph.D. in French at Northwestern University and currently teaches at Wagner College. She has published articles on authors such as Hélène Cixous, Annie Ernaux, Simone de Beauvoir, Paule Constant, Ken Bugul and Aminata Sow Fall. She is co-editor (with Christopher Hogarth) of the book, “Gender and Displacement: ‘Home’ in Contemporary Francophone Women’s Autobiography,” and her book “Shifting Subjects: Plural Subjectivity in Francophone Women’s Autobiography” is forthcoming from the University of Delaware Press.
CHRISTOPHER HOGARTH specializes in comparative and post-colonial literature (especially French, Italian and Senegalese). He obtained his Ph.D. at Northwestern University with a dissertation comparing Senegalese writing in French and Italian. He also has a strong interest in autobiography. He has published articles on Senegalese literature and on authors such as Ken Bugul and Fatou Diome, as well as articles on Italophone literature. He edited “Gender and Displacement: ‘Home’ in Contemporary Francophone Women’s Autobiography” with Natalie Edwards. He is currently completing a book entitled “Maladies of Migration in the Senegalese Novel.” He has presented papers at a variety of symposia, including in Egypt, Australia, New Zealand, Morocco, the Netherlands, Canada, Italy and the USA. At Wagner College he teaches courses in World Literature, Postcolonial Literature, African Literature, Literary Theory and Comparative Literature.