CREA Anthology: modern poetesses17 mars 2021
Firstly, students choose a contemporary French or foreign poetess from a list proposed by the teacher.
Each student researches the poetess he has chosen : her biography, her works, the way society looks at her (tributes, distinctions, quotations from literary critics or political personalities...). Then they choose one of the poems she has written : they propose a meaning, identify the topics that the poetess deals with, analyse the form of the poem and list the images she uses (comparisons, metaphors, personifications) used.
Secondly, they select a picture (painting, photography, poster or film screenshot...) which seems to them to illustrate the poem and justify their choice.
Finally, they propose a personal judgment about the poem, in particular the feelings, emotions, reactions that it produces on themselves.
Each student presents his or her research on a double-sided sheet of paper, then all the research is collected and classified in chronological order.
FROM "WOMEN'S LITERATURE TO "WOMEN'S WRITING".
Difference and institution- Literature n°44 (1981) Béatrice Slama
For a woman, writing has always been subversive : thus she leaves the condition that is made for her and enters, as if by breaking, into an area that is forbidden to her.
Literature is an adventure of the mind, of the universal, of Man : of men. It is a matter of talent and genius, therefore it is not a women's matter.
And yet women write...
For a long time, limits set, territories have been given : the letter-conversation and the women's novel, the complaint of the unmarried woman and the chronicle of daily life, the delicacies of the heart and the tears of passion. We wanted to see "works for women".
When women went beyond these limits and territories, when they had to be recognised for their talent and genius, the "paternity" of their works was sought : lover, friend, adviser, or admired their "male thinking": "antennas that vibrate with the ideas of others" or "female men": women through the heart, men through the brain. How can you be both a woman and a writer ?
In the 19th century, more and more women entered the world of literature and journalism. They wanted to live from their pen, like George Sand. At the dawn of the 20th century, this is a new phenomenon, an irreversible movement. As in the world of the working class, the problem of new gender competition arises. The institution asks itself : how to place women in the literary world ? What place do they have or will they take ? Is an "other" literature emerging ?
Women writers and the literary institution have always been caught in a subtle dialectic. Women are aware of their subversive force. The institution tries to ignore it, neutralise it or recuperate it. Women are caught between the desire to be accepted and the need to affirm their transgression. In order to find their place, their voice, they must, erase or proclaim their differences, although they take the risk of getting lost or deluding themselves. The institution, because it has the power to legitimise, seems to be in control of the game : in fact, it has to adapt: trying to classify, breaking the movement, catching the flood.
When we start talking about "women's literature"...
The often admiring tone, the interest of the critics for the "ladies of letters" of the beginning of our century (...) can be deceiving. Especially after the anger and insult of the Bas-Bleus critics, this uncontrolled outburst of "masculinism" at the end of the 19th century. The fact remains that for critics, publishers, juries, academies, literary historians, this micro-universe where publishing, distribution, conditions of reception and consecration of literary works are decided, women writers have always been women before being writers. And until recently, the institution doesn’t stop discriminating them and considering them as inferior to men. Mistrust of the publisher, silence, contempt or condescension of criticism - and gallantry is a form of it - exclusion. Juries and academies have long been closed to women. Always judged, rarely judges. But maybe the difference as inferiority has been most subtly institutionalised from the early years of our century in the concept of « women's literature » (…)
Uncomfortable and deeply dual position. Women feel that the search for "autonomous expression" is "revolutionary" but they are tempted, in order to be recognised as "writers", to identify themselves, to conform to male models and "know-how". If they sometimes take male pseudonyms or fight gender segregation, it is also a way to challenge discrimination. When men and women talk about « differences », they do not talk about the same things. Inferiority, mystery for some. Inequality, search for identity for others. Men say : inferiority. Women denounce, as Virginia Woolf did at the same time, the inequality of education, of the way of life, of the possibilities of writing and publishing. They demanded the right "for equal talent" to pursue their careers as men.
Women writers have a deep feeling that they have something different to write : only they can say women. But this inner certainty is echoed by writers and critics. An echo so sound that it seems to cover the voice: "reveal women’s secrets ". Invited to reveal themselves for the greatest "treat" of men, how not to play behind the veil, how not to hide behind it by delivering themselves ? (…)
But maybe it is less a question of "revealing" the enigmas of the "eternal feminine" than of questioning the "modern" woman, a being in transition, an "archaeopteryx", divided between work and femininity, emancipation and loving servitude. Talking about her in her evolution, her conflicts, her promises. And helping her to build herself up. What they think they bring to literature is this "other" of their intimate experience. Something on the side of the "Dionysian", of the "joy of life through all the senses". Another way of feeling : "with their insides", another relationship to the things of life, to the "tragedy" of everyday life, another vision, an intuitive knowledge of people, a deeper dive into introspection. They are "closer to life", « to the fullest ».
But also further away from reality, in "a merciless struggle with it", in the "inner chamber" of the imagination, " both refuge and revolt ". "In our society where "a woman is inferior with equal talent", women writers would like to be finally recognised in "a literature that does not discriminate between men and women". However, many of them are claiming their specificity. They dream of being both equal and different. Different, i.e. perhaps superior, to the secret and "hot" "female" superiority that Colette so often evokes with humour and tenderness.
What's at stake...
What is at stake goes far beyond the questioning of a literary specificity.
Social evolution, feminist movements, the "taking over" of men by women during the First World War, do not stop wondering about women issue in various forms. A deep change has begun. (…)
On the men's side, the old certainties are shaky : obscurely, the certainty of the indisputable male supremacy, of the essential place of men ; then, that of being alone in material and intellectual production. Men also believe that gender competition is a new fact. Women's writings appear as a symptom and symbol of the rise of women, and some of their statements sound like a disturbing challenge to male ways of thinking and values. Would the "intellectual destiny of women" be, as Valéry envisages it, to take over men's intellectual role: will the whole « artistic field » one day fall under the power of women"? This concern is quickly thwarted and repressed. Maybe it is one of the functions of this new institution, "women's literature": to exorcise this fear, to put women in their place - the second. To mark out, circumscribe, fence off this area which they begin to occupy.