Queer(y)ing Bodily Norms in Francophone Culture

Polly Galis, Senior Research Associate in French Studies, University of Bristol

Maria Tomlinson, Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, Department of Journalism Studies, University of Sheffield

Antonia Wimbush, Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, French Studies, University of Liverpool

 

Our contribution seeks to ‘queer’, in all senses of the term, perceptions and portrayals of the body in French and francophone culture. It draws from our edited volume, Queer(y)ing Bodily Norms in Francophone Culture (Peter Lang, forthcoming), which takes ‘queer(y)ing’ as its guiding methodology. This approach to culture and society examines, questions and challenges normativity in all of its guises. The term ‘queer(y)ing’ retains the celebratory tone of the term ‘queer’ but avoids appropriating the identity of the LGBTQ+ community, a group which remains marginalized to this day. The term amalgamates the notions of queering and questioning to critique a range of normative discourses about the body such as ableism, neocolonialism, ciscentrism and trans-exclusive feminism, all the while inspired by the contestatory movement of queer studies.

This presentation will provide an overview of our methodology which demonstrates the value of queer thinking within and beyond the discipline of Queer Studies. We shall offer examples of chapters which rethink bodily norms from a queer and querying perspective in French-language literature, film, theatre and digital media from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, originating from across the francophone world. In this way, we also seek to decenter Queer French Studies by revealing how cultural production from both within and beyond Hexagonal France troubles hegemonic, monolithic representations of the body. This new framework allows us to fragment often oppressive and restrictive bodily norms, and ultimately transform them.