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Good Moms, Bad Moms: Mothers in Contemporary French Autobiographies with Lise Schreier


Five Sessions

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Five Sessions Thursdays, 6:00 pm EDT - 7:30 pm EDT October 5 to December 21, 2023

The Center for Fiction

Nurturing, overbearing or absent: mothers are more often than not enduring figures in our lives. Unsurprisingly, they also are central characters in many artists’ emotional and creative landscapes. What does it mean for writers in particular to publish a text about their mother? More specifically, what do contemporary French writers share with us about them and why? Whether they write to pay homage to them, free themselves from their grip or mourn them, doing so often seems inevitable. It helps them manage overpowering emotions about someone who gave them unconditional love, abandoned them, or crippled them with a catastrophic sense of shame–someone, in sum, who made them who they are. In this group, we will discuss how French authors have used literature to process not just their relationship with their mother, but also whether they should become a mother themselves. We shall also discuss why we read about other people’s mothers and how autobiographical writings help us better understand attachment, exasperation, and loss.

The course will be mostly conversational with occasional interruptions in the discussion for context and clarity.

Meeting Details:
Thursdays, 6–7:30pm ET
10/5, 10/26, 11/16, 11/30, 12/21
In Person at The Center for Fiction

Participants should read Happening in advance of the first meeting.


Led By

  • Lise schreier

    Lise Schreier

    Lise Schreier

    Dr. Lise-Ségolène Schreier is Professor of French and Comparative Literature at Fordham University. Her publications have drawn on diverse material such as feminist newspapers, medical travelogues, fashion plates, colonial-era children’s literature, vaudeville theater and early comics. At Fordham, she teaches courses on the nineteenth-century French novel, francophone literature and contemporary fiction writing.