Writing in the Feminine: Feminism and Experimental Writing in Quebec

Writing in the Feminine: Feminism and Experimental Writing in Quebec

Writing in the Feminine: Feminism and Experimental Writing in Quebec

Writing in the Feminine: Feminism and Experimental Writing in Quebec


Here is a celebration and an analysis of four Québécois feminist rebels whose self-conscious revolt against language has put them at the forefront of experimental writing in Quebec. These women- Nicole Brossard, Madeleine Gagnon, Louky Bersianik, and France Theoret- are attempting to explode male-dominated language and to construct a new language and literature of women.

In this first major study of their work in English, Karen Gould examines in depth these women's literary visions and the new ways in which they communicate those visions. Gould broadens her book's appeal by showing how these four women's works, in modern forms of experimental literature, are shaped not only by Quebec feminism, politics, and culture but by American and French influences as well.


--There has to be somewhere else, I tell myself. and everyone knows that to go somewhere else there are routes, signs, "maps"--for an exploration, a trip.

--That's what books are. Everyone knows that a place exists which is not economically or politically indebted to all the vileness and compromise. That is not obliged to reproduce the system. That is writing. If there is a somewhere else that can escape the infernal repetition, it lies in that direction, where it writes itself, where it dreams, where it invents new worlds.

Hélène Cixous, The Newly Born Woman

To write: I am a woman is full of consequences.

Nicole Brossard, L'Amér ou le chapitre éffrité

This book is the result of what began as a general interest in Quebec culture and politics well over a decade ago, toward the end of those turbulent years of indépendence fever that rocked the political structures of the province of Quebec and for a time the Canadian federation as well. the cultural upheaval that took place in Quebec during the 1960s and early 1970s sparked the interest of a number of American academics like myself and, in my own case, also led rather unexpectedly to an appreciation of the literature of the period. in terms of the focus of this study, the radical questioning of traditional values initiated during the 1960s and the discourse of decolonization that often accompanied it have inspired a number of the directions taken by the women writers discussed here. As numerous critics have already demonstrated, Quebec nationalism exerted a strong and lingering influence on many Quebec writers during the cultural revolution of the 1960s and seriously marked the works of writers as diverse as Hubert Aquin, Paul Chamberland . . .

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