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David Birdsong, Chair 201 W 21ST STREET STOP B7600, HRH 2.114A, AUSTIN, TX 78712 • 512-471-5531

FIGSO Working Papers Series

Thu, February 21, 2013 • 3:30 PM • HRH 2.118

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Graduate students present working papers

The French and Italian Graduate Students Organization will present three talks in their Working Paper Series, Thursday, February 21, at 3:30pm in HRH 2.118 (Department Lounge).

 

Anne McCreary - French Studies

The “grue” and the “foutre” in motion: sexual currencies and economic exchange in the fabliau

In the fabliau, Celle qui fu foutue et desfoutue por une Grue, a young woman encounters a bourgeois man with a "grue," or a crane, and sells her "foutre," or her sex, in exchange for the crane. Ignorant in matters of desire, she would seem to be a typical object of fabliau mockery. The obvious phallic implications of the bird, with long neck and beak only serve to reinforce the laughable nature of the exchange, even more so when the young woman returns the crane for a restitution of her "foutre," which leads to a second erotic encounter. Beyond the more unambiguous elements of humor embodied in the crane as phallic symbol are intricate socio-economic ties demonstrated in the form of economic sexual exchange. And while it would seem that this story is a misogynistic representation of masculine domination over feminine sexuality, I would argue that the place of women in this fabliau is more complex. The young woman, who reflects the gendered economies in much of medieval literature, is central to the act of exchange that she both originates and relies upon. While misogyny in the fabliaux cannot be doubted, there is room to question the place of the female character in the text. Far from mere victims, women in the fabliaux are often depicted as maneuvering through sexual encounters in an interesting representation of feminine agency and perspicacity in the realm of social and economic exchange.

 

Valérie Masson - French Studies

Performing leisure in Maupassant: the mise en scène of pastoral pleasure in La Maison Tellier (1881)

This paper examines the performativity of leisure in Guy de Maupassant’s collection of short stories, La Maison Tellier (1881). While pleasure in Maupassant’s short stories is often read as a satisfaction of animalistic drives, I suggest that pleasure can instead be read as a social phenomenon that is being sought and performed. By focusing on two of Maupassant’s short stories, “Une Partie de Campagne” and “la Maison Tellier”, I argue that the petty-bourgeois use the natural setting of the environs of Paris as a commodity that promises to offer them pleasure. Through their commodification of the countryside, these characters project their fantasies of pastoral pleasure by organizing leisure activities that, through regimes of visibility, become a new kind of spectacle. Through this performance of leisure, Maupassant subverts ideas of the natural and the artificial, and more importantly, by using nature as a space of performativity, he shows to what extent nature and pleasure have become merely commodities in Third Republic France. 

 

Matthew Rabatin - Italian Studies

Narrating Alterity: La Libellula, the oblique gaze, and the Italian Resistance 

This presentation will take into consideration Bert D’Arragon’s La Libellula, the story of a same-sex couple active in the Italian Resistance from its formative phase in the 1920s to its culmination in the armed combat of the Second World War. I argue that the narrative’s use of lo sguardo obliquo, described by the Italian writing collective Wu Ming as the “fusion of ethics and style”, takes on a polyvalent function. La Libellula's narration emerges from the margins of society and explores the complex and contradictory interplay of power and resistance in the experence of alterity. Combined with the novel's meticulous reconstruction of a precise historical moment, I believe the use of the oblique gaze also signifies a political and ethical imperative for the reevaluation of scholarly engagement with the Italian Resistance.

 


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