Cinematography in the Works of Annie Ernaux: Writing Memory and Reality Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
  • Dougherty, Jacqueline C.
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Romance Studies
  • This dissertation proposes a re-reading of Annie Ernaux's corpus by considering the cinematographic aspects present in her works. Ernaux has systematically engaged in a reciprocity between the text and the image, including both moving and fixed images. This reciprocity is particularly manifest in Ernaux's deployment of the flashback to relay the memories of her past experiences. In my introductory chapter, I demonstrate that Ernaux views the recording of such memories from an entirely cinematic perspective. Chapter 2 investigates Ernaux's adaptation of the cinematic flashback, including the fade and voix off narration, the two devices that initiate the flashback. Furthermore, this chapter demonstrates that the combination of visual markers and textual strategies in Ernaux's writing actually likens the reader to a spectator who views a film on screen. Finally, in keeping with the inherent characteristic of personal testimony on which both literary and cinematic flashbacks rely, Chapter 2 also discusses the numerous strategies at work in Ernaux's writing that sustain the veracity of her narratives. These strategies include the use of archives, reference to personal diaries and the inclusion of footnotes. Chapter 3 explores Ernaux's pervasive deployment and recourse to the terms image, scene, cinema and film as surrogates for the constructions of souvenir and memoire. Such memory-images enrich the primary flashback narrative by isolating events whose emotional resonance is particularly acute for the narrator. The photographic images populating Ernaux's works are interpreted as cinematic freeze-frames in Chapter 4. Like the memory-images analyzed in Chapter 3, the narrator reveals the affective import of the photographs. We discover that, rather than interrupting the flow of the narrative, the incorporation of photographs in the text actually contributes relevant insights, details and truths to the account in question. The final chapter includes a reflection on the extent to which Ernaux's artful fusion of cinematic and literary devices facilitates her quest for reality in her writing. I conclude by demonstrating Ernaux's multiple innovations of the literary paradigm and designate her as the source of collective memory for her generation.
Date of publication
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  • In Copyright
  • Antle, Martine
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Graduation year
  • 2011

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