Corporeal Archipelagos: Writing the Body in Francophone Oceanian Women's Literature offers an examination of contemporary literature from the French-speaking Oceanian region through a focus on four of its most prolific women writers and the ways in which these writers negotiate identity construction through one of the most powerful identity markers in the region: the body. The question of the body - how one is to make meaning through corporeality, how one represents the body, and what role the body plays in identity construction - is not only a question with which feminists and postcolonial theorists have been grappling for nearly a half-century. The body is of integral significance to autochthonous Oceanian societies, whose views of corporeality are not built upon a dualistic mind-body binary that has influenced Western thought since the era of Descartes, but rather on a cosmological, epistemological axis that comprehends the body as intertwined with symbolic, social, and ideological understandings of identity. Beginning with an analysis of the ways in which the Oceanian body has been portrayed and consumed as an exotic object of fascination throughout three centuries of European literature, the book examines the myriad methods by which women writers break away from exotic myths and reappropriate the body as a powerful tool that enables them to confront the question of self-definition in French-speaking Oceania. The authors examined in this book employ culturally, racially, and sexually specific bodies in the creation of an original, confrontational literature that transgresses historically and culturally imposed boundaries, audaciously inserting their voices, the voices of Oceania, into the postcolonial francophone literary scene.
About the Author
Julia L. Frengs is assistant professor of French at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln