Journal of Romance Studies

Improper exposure: L’Usage de la photo by Annie Ernaux and Marc Marie

Journal of Romance Studies (2007), 7, (2), 123–141.

Abstract

This article focuses on self-exposure, intimacy and shame in the writings of Annie Ernaux through detailed analysis of the auto-ethnographic, phototextual diary L’Usage de la photo (2005) which she co-authored with Marc Marie. It explores the structure of the text, the project and life-context in which it originated and the relationship between writing and visual images. Ernaux’s redoubled attentiveness to photography is contextualized by reference to the functions of photography in her previous writings, and the visual display of her private life in L’Usage de la photo is seen both to constitute a new category of photograph and to set up a new dynamic in writer/reader relations. The article raises the key issue of shame through discussion of the themes of staining and of ‘dirty linen’. Finally, L’Usage de la photo is analysed as a cancer testimony and a commentary on the reshaping of identity through illness.

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Jordan, Shirley