French Lecture Series "Prizes, prestige, lobster and tired eyes: Reconstructing the early history of the prix Femina"

4:30 PM  - 6:00 PM
Monday Nov 12, 2012
Neill Hall (formerly Humanities Building) 401

Margot Irvine from the University of Guelph in Canada will present, "Prizes, prestige, lobster and tired eyes: Reconstructing the early history of the prix Femina."  In 1904 a group of women authors, supported by the women's press, founded a new literary prize, the prix Vie heureuse (which would become known as the prix Femina in 1919). They felt this new award was needed to recognize writing by women, who were excluded from the other existing literary award, the prix Goncourt, both as prize winners and as members of the jury. Drawing on archival research, this lecture will examine some of the strategies used by the members of the jury of the prix Vie heureuse to legitimize their prize and to seek recognition for writing by women. Many of these strategies, such as the authors' insistence on their femininity and domesticity in their self-presentations in the women's press, their use of family ties, and their refusal to call themselves a women's academy (a term the members of the Académie Goncourt adopted without difficulty), point to their still uncomfortable position at the margins of the literary institution. The commitment of the jurors to this new literary adventure was remarkable and all the more so as there were often few immediate returns from their long hours of work. As Madeleine Saint-René Taillandier remarked jokingly in a letter to her colleague on the jury, Judith Cladel, the only returns they see are lobster lunches and tired eyes. Their friendships, the networks they created and the collaborations these fostered, are the other tangible results. I will argue that these are, eventually, most successful in helping this generation of women writers to gain recognition for their writing.  This lecture will be in English


Contact: Theresa Klauer, ext 6437

This event is for: Students, Staff and Faculty

Sponsored By: French and Francophone Studies

Categories: Front Page Events and Lectures and Speakers