Quebec Studies

Presentation: Voices in/on Memory: Tracing the Past and Shaping the Future in Contemporary Women's Writing

Quebec Studies (2001), 31, (1), 3–7.

Abstract

3 Presentation: Voices in/on Memory: Tracing the Past and Shaping the Future in Contemporary Women's Writing By Miléna Santoro Georgetown University The recovery of women's memories and their legitimization as an essential component of women's history—and indeed, of the history of humanity—have been two of feminism's most important goals since the late 1960s. In Quebec, the desire to inscribe women's presence in the discourse of history and in writing has taken many notable forms, including the 1982 publication of L'Histoire des femmes au Québec depuis quatre siècles by the Clio Collective (aptly named for the muse of memory) and the first Anthologie de la poésie des femmes au Québec, assembled by Nicole Brossard and Lisette Girouard and published in 1991 by the feminist press, Les Editions du remue-ménage. These are but two examples of many collaborative efforts commemorating women's contributions during a period that also saw a veritable effervescence of writing by individual women, fostered in part by journals and publishing houses dedicated to offering venues that would allow women's testimonies and creative voices to be heard.1 At the dawn of the twenty-first century, the legitimacy of women's voices in writing, at least in the West, seems no longer a goal but a given. Women's writings are no longer considered of inherently lesser interest or importance, nor are women's memories and memoirs dismissed as "minor" or "marginal" in the context of historical and literary tradition. Indeed, one has but to look at the 1991 dossier on "Refiguring History / Rewriting the Past" published in the pages of Québec Studies to see how central women's presence in and relation to history have become to the discourse of the academy. In the Quebec context, the efforts of early feminist authors like Louky Bersianik to valorize "My mory instead of his story" (Bersianik, 251) have certainly led the way for new generations to explore women's personal and collective (hi)stories in writing. And yet, there is always the danger of forgetting: just because it is so much easier today to write about and for women does not mean that we can overlook how we got here, nor how fragile the political, social and personal gains made over the last thirty years truly are. In the weave of history, the attention given to women's voices and experiences is still very recent. Moreover, if it is no longer a radical gesture to inscribe women's memories in the annals of tradition, there is still much work to be done on our relation to those memories, on the ways in which memory shapes and drives us in our becoming and our difference. As Elizabeth Waites points out in Memory Quest: Trauma and the Search for Personal History: "[t]he significance of the connections among individuation, representation, self-representation, and memory [has] not always been appreciated by researchers investigating memory" (Waites, 13). Still further, as Barbara Havercroft indicates in the survey of the critical literature on memory with which she begins her contribution to this dossier, rare indeed are those who have given scholarly consideration to the links between gender and memory. Even in Paul Ricoeur's voluminous study of La Mémoire, l'histoire, l'oubli (2000), in which one of his goals is to explore "l'idée d'une politique de la juste mémoire" (Ricoeur, I), there is no mention of gender—even in his section on "l'oubli"—in Québec Studies, Volume 31, Spring/Summer 2001

Access Token
£25.00

Bersianik, Louky. La Main tranchante du symbole. Montréal: Les Éditions du remue-ménage, 1990. La Main tranchante du symbole Google Scholar

Brossard, Nicole. L'Amèr ou le chapitre effrité. 1977. Montréal: Typo, 1988. L'Amèr ou le chapitre effrité Google Scholar

Brossard, Nicole. Baroque d'aube. Montréal: L'Hexagone, 1995. Baroque d'aube Google Scholar

Brossard, Nicole. "Memory: Hologram of Desire." Trivia, A Journal of Ideas. Part I: Memory / Transgression: Women Writing in Quebec 13 (1988): 42-47. Memory: Hologram of Desire Trivia, A Journal of Ideas. Part I: Memory / Transgression: Women Writing in Quebec 13 42 47 Google Scholar

Brossard, Nicole. and Lisette Girouard, eds. Anthologie de la poésie des femmes au Québec. Montréal: Les Éditions du remue-ménage, 1991. Anthologie de la poésie des femmes au Québec Google Scholar

Dumont, Micheline et al. (Le Collectif Clio). L'Histoire des femmes au Québec depuis quatre siècles. Montréal: Les Quinze, 1982. L'Histoire des femmes au Québec depuis quatre siècles Google Scholar

McPherson, Karen. Archaeologies of an Uncertain Future: Recent Generations of Canadian Women Writing. Montréal: McGill-Queen's University Press, forthcoming. Archaeologies of an Uncertain Future: Recent Generations of Canadian Women Writing Google Scholar

McPherson, Karen. "Archaeologies of an Uncertain Future in the Novels of Marie-Claire Blais." Québec Studies 25 (1998): 80-96. Archaeologies of an Uncertain Future in the Novels of Marie-Claire Blais Québec Studies 25 80 96 Google Scholar

McPherson, Karen. "The Future of Memory in Louise Dupré's La Memoria." Doing Gender: Franco-Canadian Women Writers of the 1990s. Ed. Roseanna L. Dufault and Paula Ruth Gilbert. Cranbury, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson UP, 2001. 142-59. Doing Gender: Franco-Canadian Women Writers of the 1990s 142 59 Google Scholar

"Focus on: Refiguring History / Rewriting the Past." Québec Studies 12 (1991): 1-91. Google Scholar

Parker, Alice. Liminal Visions of Nicole Brossard. New York: Peter Lang, 1998. Liminal Visions of Nicole Brossard Google Scholar

Ricoeur, Paul. La Mémoire, l'histoire, l'oubli. Paris: Seuil, 2000. La Mémoire, l'histoire, l'oubli Google Scholar

Théoret, France. "Éloge de la mémoire des femmes." In La Théorie un dimanche. Montréal: Éditions du remue-ménage, 1988. 176-91. La Théorie un dimanche 176 91 Google Scholar

Théoret, France. Journal pour mémoire. Montréal: Éditions de l'Hexagone, 1993. Journal pour mémoire Google Scholar

Waites, Elizabeth A. Memory Quest: Trauma and the Search for Personal History. New York: W. W. Norton and Company, Inc., 1997. Memory Quest: Trauma and the Search for Personal History Google Scholar

If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Details

Author details

Santoro, Miléna