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Literature and Communities: A Gendered Approach

Code
FEM 2011-23808
Program
Program for Fundamental Unassigned Research within the National Plan for R+D+i
Institution
Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad
Duration
2012-2014
Research projects
Principal Investigator(s)
Marta Segarra
(Centre Dona i Literatura, Universitat de Barcelona)
Research Team
Rodrigo Andrés
(Centre Dona i Literatura, Universitat de Barcelona)
,
Anne Emmanuelle Berger
(Université Paris 8)
,
Marie-France Borot
(Universitat de Barcelona)
,
Isabel Clúa Ginés
(Universitat de Barcelona)
,
Rosa de Diego
(Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea)
,
Helena González
(Centre Dona i Literatura, Universitat de Barcelona)
,
Joana Masó
(Centre Dona i Literatura, Universitat de Barcelona)
,
Joana Sabadell-Nieto
(Hamilton College)
,
Ashley Thompson
(University of Leeds)
Predoctoral research staff in training
Laura López Peña
(Universitat de Barcelona)
,
María Teresa Vera Rojas
(Universitat de Barcelona)
Summary

The goal of this project is to reflect on the "community" as a concept which creates identities, both at a personal level (the relationship between the individual and the group) and at a collective level (the borders between groups), from representations of community developed in the work of certain writers and filmmakers. It will also analyze how literary and filmic productions can deconstruct, undo or also create and rebuild community bonds which have been damaged due to specific political or historical situations. The final aim of the project is to develop an interdisciplinary and comparative work which explores new modalities of representing or creating common identities, and analyze the role that gender plays in these representations and creations.

The corpus will draw on contemporary texts and films written in Romance languages and English. This linguistic delimitation obeys not only the researchers' competence, but also to the fact that some of these languages correspond to the nations that built colonial empires. The heritage of these empires in postcolonial countries often includes the adoption of these languages as official or even as the only ones used in the private sphere. Therefore, this project also has a postcolonial component.

The theoretical reflection on the concept of community has been especially intense in recent decades. Philosophers such as Maurice Blanchot, Jacques Derrida, Jean-Luc Nancy, Giorgio Agamben, Benedict Anderson, Zygmunt Bauman, Roberto Esposito, and Judith Butler, amongst others, have brought seminal contributions to the deconstruction and reformulation of this notion. Our project aims to contribute to these seminal reflections, and further expand on them, by positioning the inquiry at the convergence of two fields: firstly, by applying a gender perspective to the analysis (among the above-mentioned thinkers, only Butler considers this perspective), and secondly, by intertwining the theoretical reflection on community with the critical analysis of literary and filmic texts, hence the original contribution of this project. The hypothesis is that literature, in a broad sense, is one of the most relevant ways to build personal and collective identities, and, as such, an excellent way to reflect on the concept of community itself.

These goals will result in the organization of an international conference and in the publication of two collections of essays, in English and in Spanish, which will include the results of the project.

Objectives

  1. Use theory to offer a scientific contribution,  from a gender perspective, to the contemporary debate surrounding the concept of the "community".
  2. Undergo a critical study of literary texts and cinematographic works (from a multilingual corpus in Catalan, Spanish, French, Galician, English, Italian and Portuguese) that offer interesting visions of this concept.
  3. Highlight the postcolonial dimension that results from the analysis of works that emerge from countries that suffered from the imposition of said languages through colonization.
  4. Hold a scientific meeting with eminent international scholars on the theme of the project and publish a volume in English and in Spanish that represents an innovative contribution to the debate on the community, from the point of view described.