Textual and Visual Selves


Textual and Visual Selves

Photography, Film, and Comic Art in French Autobiography

Edited by Natalie Edwards, Amy L. Hubbell, and Ann Miller

288 pages
13 illustrations


December 2011


$25.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)

December 2011


$25.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

Autobiography in France has taken a decidedly visual turn in recent years: photographs, shown or withheld, become evidence of what was, might have been, or cannot be said; photographers, filmmakers, and cartoonists undertake projects that explore issues of identity. Textual and Visual Selves investigates, from a variety of theoretical perspectives, the ways in which the textual and the visual combine in certain French works to reconfigure ideas—and images—of self-representation.

Surprisingly, what these accounts reveal is that photography or film does not necessarily serve to shore up the referentiality of the autobiographical account: on the contrary, the inclusion of visual material can even increase indeterminacy and ambiguity. Far from offering documentary evidence of an extratextual self coincident with the “I” of the text, these images testify only to absence, loss, evasiveness, and the desire to avoid objectification. However, where Roland Barthes famously saw the photograph as a prefiguration of death, in this volume we see how the textual strategies deployed by these writers and artists result in work that is ultimately life-affirming.

Author Bio

Natalie Edwards is an assistant professor of French at Wagner College and coeditor of This Self Which Is Not One: Women’s Life Writing in French. Amy L. Hubbell is an associate professor of French at Kansas State University, lecturer in French at the University of Queensland, and the author of À la recherche d’un emploi: Business French in a Communicative Context. Ann Miller is a university fellow at the University of Leicester and the author of Reading Bande Dessinée: Critical Approaches to French-Language Comic Strip.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations


Introduction: Textual and Visual Selves

      Natalie Edwards, Amy L. Hubbell, and Ann Miller

1. Beyond Autobiography

      Véronique Montémont

2. Chronicles of Intimacy: Photography in Autobiographical Projects

      Shirley Jordan

3. The Absent Body: Photography and Autobiography in Hélène Cixous's Photos de racines and Annie Ernaux and Marc Marie's L'Usage de la photo

      Natalie Edwards

4. The Photobiographical Today: Signs of an Identity Crisis?

      Floriane Place-Verghnes

5. Reclaiming the Void: The Cinematographic Aesthetic of Marguerite Duras's Autobiographical Novels

      Erica L. Johnson

6. Illustration Revisited: Phototextual Exchange and Resistance in Sophie Calle's Suite vénitienne

      Johnnie Gratton

7. Viewing the Past through a "Nostalgeric" Lens: Pied-Noir Photodocumentaries

      Amy L. Hubbell

8. Georges Perec, Memory, and Photography

      Peter Wagstaff

9. The Self-Portrait in French Cinema: Reflections on Theory and on Agnès Varda's Les Glaneurs et la glaneuse

      Agnès Calatayud

10. Autobiography in Bande Dessinée

      Ann Miller



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