Keynote Speaker

We are pleased to announce that Professor Barbara Havercroft from the Department of French/Centre for Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto will be joining us as our keynote speaker! We look forward to hearing her lecture.

“Narrating Wounds: Trauma and Transformation in Contemporary Women’s Autobiographical Texts”

Abstract

The subject of my lecture is situated at the junction of two major areas in contemporary theory and representational practices: the rise of autobiography and its subgenres (memoirs, confessions, autofictions, diaries, etc.) as a significant field of inquiry unto itself, and the rapid development of interdisciplinary trauma studies over the past twenty years.

I shall begin by discussing some of the principal issues in trauma theory before turning to an analysis of two recent French texts dealing with personal trauma: Annie Ernaux and Marc Marie’s L’usage de la photo (2005) (The Use of the Photo), which recounts Ernaux’s courageous battle with breast cancer, and Christine Angot’s L’inceste (1999) (Incest), with some brief references to American writer Kathryn Harrison’s incest memoir The Kiss (1995). My focus in examining these texts will be on the aesthetics, poetics, and ethics of narrating gender-inflected trauma, particularly on the discursive means used to express the “unspeakable”.

“Transformation” and “adaptation” will not be considered in the literal sense of a transfer from one medium to another, as in the adaptation of a novel to the cinema, but in the broader sense of rendering an ineffable experience in words, using various literary devices and techniques, an arduous process which may result in the transformation (healing) of the wounded narrator.

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