Speaking in ‘I’: The Interface of Theory and Autobiography in Nicole Brossard’s Life Writing

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Abstract

Nicole Brossard’s ‘fiction theory’, that is, her language-focused, experimental prose and poetry, has influenced feminist writing in Quebec and English Canada. This article examines Brossard’s inscriptions of radical lesbian subjectivity at the interface of theory and autobiography, focusing on two texts from the mid-1980s, which can be classified as life writing. By examining The Aerial Letter and Intimate Journal side by side, the author compares different uses and functions of the autobiographical ‘I’ in the service of theory-making. The Aerial Letter reveals the collective, politicized ‘I’ that assumes an anti-patriarchal stance working towards establishing a women’s community. On the other hand, Intimate Journal exposes ‘I’ as a fiction of the autobiographical subject displaced between the phenomenological, living body and the published ‘version’ of this body in writing. While remaining loyal to a feminist politics of the personal as political, Brossard’s écriture au féminin explores the subject as fractured and refracted in discourse.

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