What Forms Can Do

BookWhat Forms Can Do

What Forms Can Do

The Work of Form in 20th- and 21st- Century French Literature and Thought

Contemporary French and Francophone Cultures, 69


February 26th, 2020



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This volume responds to important questions about the formal properties of literary texts and the agency of form. A central feature of twentieth- and twenty-first century French and Francophone writing has been the exploration of how cultural forms (literary, philosophical and visual) create distinctive semiotic environments and at the same time engage powerfully with external realities. How does form propose a bridge between the environment of the text and the world beyond? What kinds of formal innovations have authors devised in response to the complexity of that world? How do the formal properties of texts inflect our reading of them, and perhaps also our apprehension of the real? In addressing such questions as they apply to a wide corpus of texts, including the novel, life writing, the essay, travel writing, poetry and textual/visual experiments, the chapters in this volume offer new perspectives on a wide range of creative figures including Proust, Picasso, Breton, Bataille, Ponge, Guillevic, Certeau, Camus, Barthes, Perec, Roubaud, Chauvet, Savitzkaya, Eribon, Ernaux, Laurens and Akerman. Collectively, they renew the engagement with form that has been a key feature of French cultural production and of analysis in French studies.

'This volume is of a very high calibre. It offers a broad cross-section of readings in French and Francophone Studies, bringing together a vibrant range of texts through a collective endeavor to rethink the concept and practice of literary form.'
Anna-Louise Milne, The University of London Institute in Paris

Author Information

Patrick Crowley is Senior Lecturer in French at University College Cork. Shirley Jordan is Professor of French Studies at the University of Newcastle and Co-Director of the Centre for Contemporary Women’s Writing (CCWW) in the School of Advanced Studies, University of London.