Creating Female Community: Repetition and Renewal in the Novels of Nicole Brossard, Michelle Cliff, Maryse Condé, and Gisèle Pineau
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In this project I explore the creation of female community in the novels of four contemporary feminist writers: Nicole Brossard, Michelle Cliff, Maryse Condé, and Gisèle Pineau. I contend that in their diverse representations of female community, these women writers provide collaborative feminist models of resistance, creative transformation, and renewal. Building on Judith Butler's articulation of agency as variation on repetition, I argue that these writers transform the space of the novel in order to tell these stories of community, revitalizing this form as a potential site of collaborative performance of identity. They offer an alternative vision that is not only feminist and collective, but also transnational, translinguistic, historical, and epistemological - challenging and reconfiguring the way in which we understand our world. I develop the project thematically in terms of coming-of-age through and into female community (what the communities in these novels look like and the relationship between individuals and communities, seen through the process of individual maturity). I then consider the formal construction of female community through the collective narrative voice (both within the novels and outside them, in the form of each writer's collective body of engaged feminist dialogue in interviews and theory). Finally, I explore female community through alternative genealogies and quests for origin (demonstrating the implications of these novels' vision for transforming a more traditional worldview, with transnational communities and the transmission of historical knowledge across generations of women).