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UBC Theses and Dissertations

(Pro)créer : maternité et créativité dans trois romans de Nancy Huston Chabot, Heidi

Abstract

Throughout history, women have suffered from the mind/ body dualism, a major component of Western patriarchal ideology, which has consigned the body to women and the brain to men. Women's role is relegated to procreating, a "natural" act of the body that produces offspring, while men create, a conscious undertaking of the mind that brings something new into being. Women artists frequently confront continuous challenges to their creativity having to choose between mothering and artistic creation. Theorists like de Beauvoir saw the two as incompatible, three novels by Nancy Huston: La Virevolte (1994), Instruments des tenebres (1996) and Prodige (1999), seem in some ways to confirm that dilemma. Yet elsewhere this bilingual author affirms not only the possibility of combining them, but the importance of doing so to produce works that are feminine. Her work challenges the view of motherhood as metaphor in French feminist theory, as Huston relates that theory to practical concerns more often associated with anglophone feminist theory. A range of feminist works on maternity will be employed to examine the changing positions adopted in these novels, where the division between creation and maternity is primordial, but this split implies different results in each case. Instead of the traditional or feminist figure of motherhood, based on maternal love or instinct, the reader is confronted with specific types of conflict between mother and child.

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