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'"Une vraie famille Benetton": Maternal metaphors of nation in
Il y a longtemps que je t'aime
- a response to Susan Hayward'
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Dr Sarah Leahy
Higbee, W. and Leahy, S
Studies in French Cinema: UK Perspectives 1985-2010
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At the end of her provocative chapter ‘National Cinemas and the Body Politic’ published in Ezra and Harris (eds)
France in Focus: Film and National Identity
(Berg, 2000), Susan Hayward sets a challenge for the reader to ponder. This challenge is to consider the ways in which cinema enables the sexed female body – straitjacketed by national discourses into an uncomfortable and precarious transvestite masquerade – to emerge in multiple and scattered forms, crossing (transgressing) national, sexual and gender boundaries to threaten the unity of the nation-subject (Hayward 2000a: 112). In this chapter, through an examination of the representation of a range of different maternal relationships that lie at the heart of
Il y a longtemps que je t’aime
(Claudel, 2008), I attempt to take up this challenge by considering how a reframing of cultural constructions of the maternal body in particular might also pose a challenge to the unified nation-subject, especially if this entails a questioning of the ties that link motherhood and nation.
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