Replay Event: Jennifer Tamas & Alice Zeniter: Claiming Space for Women Writers in the French Literary Canon

On Saturday, October 21, author and scholar Jennifer Tamas and award-winning novelist and filmmaker Alice Zeniter participated in a  lively conversation that aimed to claim space for women authors in the French Literary Canon — based on their respective books, Au non des femmes (J. Tamas, Seuil) and Toute une moitié du monde (A. Zeniter, Flammarion).

In Toute une moitié du Monde, Alice Zeniter investigates her personal history with books. As a young reader, Zeniter acknowledges that she identified mostly with male characters, and later started wondering why. Why, in an overwhelming numbers of classics women characters seem to be reduced to a mere masculine fantasy? Zeniter then put into focus the 20th century writers whom she admires and whose works have contributed to reversing that trend.
In Au non des femmes, Jennifer Tamas invites us to consider French literary classics in a new light, free of prejudices. In her view, literary criticism and our educational system are accountable for our perception of women as powerless creatures in constant need of men’s protection and validation. A close and attentive reading of La Princesse de Clèves and other 17th and 18th century classics reveals a quite different story. Women belonging to aristocracy had a real political and even economic influence.

Rewatch the riveting conversation between these two accomplished authors and thinkers who are devoted to giving women writers and women’s experiences the attention and recognition they deserve.

Jennifer Tamas is an Associate Professor of French Studies at Rutgers University. Her area of expertise covers the Old Regime to the French Revolution and explore the boundaries between passions and politics. She wrote numerous articles on passions and theater. She is the author of Le Silence trahi, Racine ou la déclaration tragique, Genève, Droz, 2018 and Au Non des Femmes, Seuil, 2023.

Alice Zeniter is a French novelist, translator, scriptwriter, and director. Her novel Take This Man was published in English by Europa Editions in 2011. Zeniter has won many awards for her work in France, including the Prix Littéraire de la Porte Dorée, the Prix Renaudot des Lycéens, and the Prix Goncourt des Lycéens, which was awarded to The Art of Losing. She lives in Brittany. Her novels include among others Juste avant l’Oubli (Flammarion, 2015), and Comme un empire dans un empire (Flammarion, 2020). Her debut film, Avant l’effondrement, co-realized with Benoît Volnais was released to much acclaimed in 2023.



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