From a Novel to a Bookstore: The Memorialization of L'euguélionne in Québec

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 16:15
Oral Presentation
Marie-Lise DRAPEAU-BISSON, University of Toronto, Canada
Much like the The Feminine Mystique’s effect in the United States, the publication of L’Eugélionne in 1976 crystalized radical feminism in Québec, so much so that as to be called the feminist bible (Guillemette 2011 in Le Devoir, Saint-Martin 1990). Forty years after its publication, the novel can be found in bookstores in its 2012 re-edition, archived at the Maison de la Litérature’s permeant exhibit in Québec city, or reinvented as the name of a new feminist cooperative bookstore in a Montréal neighbourhood. In doing so, various activists and cultural experts both crystalize the past, along with a certain version of “acceptable” feminism, while also opening up opportunities for new practices (see Reger 2017). This tension, I contend, is at the heart of memorialization but also of much feminist activism.

The question under study is thus how does the materiality of the novel, its written text, content and genre, affect conflictual processe of memorialization. To do so, I analyze three sites (the bookstore, the permanent exhibition and the mainstream media) where each site is understood as different cultural forms of memorialization. I deploy a set of data collection strategies in order to mine the data for the different “interpretive strategies” (Corse and Westervelt 2002) employed by actors in each of these sites. In doing so, I am to shed light on the multi-level, power-laden and continually evolving process of meaning making in the memorialization of cultural objects.