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Limits and boundaries in contemporary women’s life writing: the politics of reading Christine Angot

By Gill Rye


Contemporary life writing in France highlights the issue of limits and borders. Testimonies, confessions, autofictions and autobiographical fictions of varying degrees all work at the threshold of the intimate and the public, and, in doing so, they establish – or disrupt – a range of reading expectations and pacts. The jury is still out on the case of Christine Angot. Since her first novel was published in 1990, she has become a prolific mainstay of the French literary scene, but her work continues to be controversial and receives widely differing responses from scholars and media critics alike. Limits and boundaries lie at the heart of Angot’s experimental oeuvre. She works both at and on literary and social borders, transgressing boundaries, challenging norms, provoking her readers. Her particular brand of life writing carries echoes of performance art, reality shows, video diaries, web blogs. This paper engages with the dynamics of the border in Angot’s work on a number of different levels. While some boundaries are clearly being transgressed, to what extent, and how, are limits also being set? What is at stake in Angot’s precarious treatment of the borderlands between text and life? What issues does her work raise, and what does it have to say about contemporary culture and society? Discussion of these questions draws on examples from across the range of Angot’s work, and addresses the aesthetics of her writing as well as the politics of reading them

Topics: CLL
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