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International Conference: “Specters of Feminism in the Work of Joyce Carol Oates”

Aix-Marseille University, France, March 1-2, 2024
Julie Agu et Maria-Luna Aillaud

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1This two-day symposium dedicated to Joyce Carol Oates’s work in conversation with feminism, “Specters of Feminism in the Work of Joyce Carol Oates,” was organized by Nicolas Boileau and Tanya Tromble-Giraud (Aix-Marseille University) and held in Aix-en-Provence, France, with the support of the LERMA (Laboratoire d’études et de recherche sur le monde anglophone) and Maison de la Recherche (Aix-Marseille University). Bringing together a dozen European scholars to explore the various ways in which feminist ideas haunt and question both Oates’s fiction and non-fiction writing, this conference dealt with a myriad of thought-provoking discussions about the author’s complex, transgressive take on gender in her literary works. Through the lens of key concepts in feminist studies, as well as surprising insights into her current outspokenness in interviews and prolific social media posts covering contemporary feminist issues, the panelists drew on a multifaceted framework and material, ranging from critical literary theory, intermedial studies, and feminist theories, to address Oates’s response to four waves of feminism and gender politics in her work. Despite the author’s well-known reluctance to be labeled a “radical feminist,”1 which might now seem at odds with her social media production, Oates’s critics have identified feminist characteristics, tropes, and experiments with literary conventions that challenge traditional patriarchal and canonical literature in her work, thus showing how she passes on feminist concepts, in unexpected, and perhaps even unintended ways (Bender, Bradbury, Cologne-Brookes, Daly, Friedman, Wesley).

2The conference began with warm coffee, warm weather, and warm words of welcome from the organizers, who expressed their gratitude to each other and to the financial and technical support they received from Aix-Marseille University to successfully organize this conference dedicated to Oates’s fascinating engagement with, within, and against feminist discourses. As members of the same research team, “Women and the F-Word,” Nicolas Boileau and Tanya Tromble-Giraud reminded the audience that the symposium was part of a broader interdisciplinary scientific project that traces the “specters of feminism” in fictional spaces and scholarly discourses.

3The first panel of the conference, chaired by Laura Benoît (Aix-Marseille University), was to open with a discussion of Blonde (2000) by Zofia Leśnik (Institute of Literary Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences), who unfortunately had to cancel at the last minute. Without further ado, Jocelyn Dupont (University of Perpignan) opened the session with “The 11-Year Itch: Exploitation as Sublimation in Blonde (Oates 2000/Dominik 2022),” which examined Andrew Dominik’s recent adaptation of Oates’s novel Blonde, highlighting the neglected aspects of its hypotext in the ongoing critical discourse. Dupont began by analyzing the complex stakes involved in Dominik’s adaptation, given the extreme iconicity of Norma Jeane Baker, i.e. Marilyn Monroe, and Oates’s “monster of a book,” whose ambition was to “transcend sex and gender” so that “men readers [could] identify with her.” Dupont critically examined Dominik’s approach, questioning the omission of what Oates refers to as the complexities of Monroe’s life in favor of portraying desirable femininity in order to prioritize box office success. This talk therefore navigated concepts of femininity and feminism in both works, underlining the impossible tension between the graphic, the physical, and the iconographic. The presentation extended to a close trans-semiotic analysis of a pivotal sequence: the famous subway grate scene, which the entire audience watched during the discussion that followed. While Oates’s chapter is a balance of pure shimmering beauty, glamour, fairy tale, gritty realism, and overexposure of flesh, in the movie, obscenity is not an option. Indeed, Dominik opted for extreme visibility, creating a growing sense of unease. Dupont explored the depth and complexity of Oates’s book, evaluating the choices made in portraying Monroe’s self-consciousness. Critics have raised concerns about the film’s portrayal of Monroe as a passive victim of patriarchal forces, overlooking Oates’s nuanced exploration of her agency and resilience. Dupont emphasized that if there is horror in both biographical stories, it is not in Marilyn’s exploitation by a patriarchal system and industry, but rather in the constant push and hold of the gothic dynamic between objection and sublimation. The discussion concluded with an assessment of Dominik’s adaptation as an ambitious project that may not have fully achieved its goals. This first paper also prompted inquiries about Oates’s opinion on the adaptation, the actress’s performance, and the movie’s aesthetic choices, leaving open-ended discussions about the inherent challenges of translating literary works into cinematic experiences.

4In the following panel, chaired by Anne Reynès-Delobel (Aix-Marseille University), Sara Watson (Aix-Marseille University) compared the trajectories of the female protagonists in Man Crazy (1997) and The Falls (2004) in her talk entitled “Cult Following(s): Power and Surrender for the Women of Man Crazy and The Falls,” in which she questioned worship and the female experience between surrender and sublimation. In a section she called “Anatomy of a Fall,” Sara Watson analyzed the relationship between sin and the female self. The catabasis of the descent into hell is very important in both novels, first signaled by the decay of the bodies marked by Ingrid’s infected scar tissue, which is an indication that she is now doomed by her sin, and Ariah’s growing thinner and thinner, thus becoming an eternal widow. A recurring theme in both novels is the rejection of religion as a means of understanding the world. This rejection contributes to a sense of isolation that deepens the characters’ descent into hell. Watson’s analysis then moved to an exploration of the surrender of power and potential anti-feminist readings of the texts. In Man Crazy, Ingrid’s transition from grappling with her “daddy issues” (in Watson’s words) to rejecting agency prompts a reflection on feminism at the intersection of desire, power, and disempowerment. It is a tale of submission to yet another God, Jesus instead of Sigmund. As for religion, Ariah has always said that “there might be a God watching” (284), compounding the human predicament: God is tricky, unpredictable. Religion, in these two books, is thus an illness, a pathology. Finally, Sara Watson examined how these female protagonists engage with and reject modern feminism through an analysis of American history. Man Crazy embodies the satanic panic of the 1990s, while The Falls explores the Love Canal disaster. Character names also carry symbolic weight as biblical and historical references. Ultimately, the sublime emerges as a feminist concept, urging readers to confront societal influences. Worship in both novels, though deviant and disturbing, shapes the narratives and underscores America’s historical influences, prompting us to reflect on the characters’ choices amidst our frustration and anger.

5Charlotte Estrade (Paris Nanterre University) then took us on an unexpected journey with Oates as a passionate sports critic in her talk “Joyce Carol Oates’s Pugilistic Writings: on Men, Women, and Humanity.” Drawing insightful parallels between boxing’s ritualized violence and Oates’s obsession with raw depictions of battered bodies and swollen faces in her fiction, Charlotte Estrade shed light on some of the autobiographical and non-fictional elements that haunt Oates’s writing in conversation with feminism. This discussion examined one of America’s greatest storytelling traditions about violence and gender, unveiling national ghosts and tropes of male violence with an original focus on boxing. In her autobiography, The Lost Landscape (2015), Oates describes growing up in a hyper-masculine realm where “(male) violence, the American romance of (male) violence, was unquestioned” (27). Her memoir depicts a silent and invisible girl who was made to feel like she was “the Other” in a male-dominated world in which boxers/men were the main characters of the story. The writer’s imagination was fueled by dramatic homoerotic boxing performances that showcased shattered virile bodies. As a little girl who used to sit quietly with her father watching boxing on TV, Oates believed that women “naturally” tend to identify with the losing boxer and do not belong in the boxing field. The author’s analysis of the ring’s space as a metaphorical altar, on which male heroes publicly perform their own sacrifice – what Charlotte Estrade called a celebration of the religion of (toxic) masculinity –, reveals a more complex and ambivalent take on gender. In the discussion that followed, questions arose about the portrayal of female boxers in Oates’s fiction, and whether Marilyn Monroe could be interpreted as a metaphorical boxer trapped in and out of the ring in the famous scene from Blonde (2022) that we had watched earlier… Indeed, the boxing metaphor could be extended to Oates’s writing if we consider the author to be a virtuoso boxer in the “cruelest sport” who knocks her (feminist) readers out with her compelling visions of tortured female bodies and controversial essentialist arguments on gender roles, two points which Charlotte Estrade raised multiple times throughout her analysis.

6After lunch, the second session was chaired by Tanya Tromble-Giraud (Aix-Marseille University) and opened with a talk entitled “Beyond ‘Do Not Disturb’: Alternatives and Possibilities of Feminism in Babysitter (2022)” by Emilie Heude (University of Picardy Jules Verne), who presented us with perhaps one of the most disturbing diegeses Oates has devised to explore the concept of agency—a haunting trope present throughout her fiction and shared by feminism. In Babysitter, the metaphor of the hotel’s “Do Not Disturb” sign echoes both Hannah’s ambiguous relationship to her own sense of agency and Emilie Heude’s reflection on feminism in the novel. Who is disturbing whom? Who has the right to disturb? To be disturbed or to disturb “blurs the border of gender” (100), just as Babysitter blurs the dynamics of power, sex, class, and race. Hannah is a white, educated, Michigan housewife whose suburban life is disrupted when she crosses paths with Mikey, a victim of child abuse by a Catholic priest. Emilie Heude analyzed the driving scene, which occurs after Hannah’s boss sexually assaulted her in the hotel room, as the epitome of Hannah’s freewill. Neither we nor Hannah are “[…] certain if she’d turned the wheel or if the wheel had turned Hannah’s hands” (129). The (feminist) reader has no choice but to sit in the passenger seat, interpreting Hannah’s choices, her hesitations, and our own decision to stay in the car for the whole ride, no matter how uncomfortable and bumpy the road gets, haunted by “[t]he realization that she has crossed over and cannot retreat” (62). In the context of #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter, Babysitter seems more relevant than ever. The discussion that followed successfully demonstrated that the question of agency is a complex, multifaceted reality, with different alternatives navigating uncomfortable truths and leaving us with uncomfortable readings—echoing Oates’s claim that “art should not be comforting.” Oates’s characters, whether male or female, alternatively play the roles of victim and oppressor in her fiction, commanding readers to extend their feminist sympathies in directions or to objects they might not normally sympathize with.

7The discussion continued with a reflection on the haunting presence of feminist discourses in Oates’s writing on rape in “Love is a ‘pathological condition of the soul’: Beasts (2002) and Rape: A Love Story (2004)” by Nicolas Pierre Boileau (Aix-Marseille University). In both novellas, Oates explores sexual violence, and in particular rape and its aftermath. Her texts delve into the violence women endure as dismembered sexual objects, and graphically describe rape scenes. However, this objectification remains incomprehensible due to an unreliable narrative and the impossibility of getting inside the character’s mind, rendering the traumatic experience ungraspable. Boileau emphasized that both texts were published under the influence of trauma studies, which constructed rape as the “epitome of trauma” and overlooked the complex implications around desire and women’s agency. Boileau also pointed to Modernist influences in Oates’s novellas, noting that Beasts draws on the poetry of D.H. Lawrence, which haunts the narrative and portrays love as primal, sensual, and rotten. By highlighting Oates’s choices in the light of the theoretical understanding of rape by feminist thinkers in the 1970s, who argued that rape is a violent social phenomenon about power and control (Canan and Levand), Boileau demonstrated that Oates’s texts offer a dense, multidimensional, and dynamic reading of rape. Though highly critical of Freudian psychoanalysis, which Boileau interpreted as further evidence of the feminist discourses that haunt Oates’s voice, her narratives subtly—and perhaps unconsciously—engage with psychoanalytic themes. Her exploration of the antisocial behavior of desire anticipates contemporary concerns about heterosexual relationships, in conversation with the evolution of feminist thinking about sexual violence. Because of this consensus about rape as a power-driven act, rape victims often internalize societal scripts about sexual assault and the slippery merging of victimhood with womanhood. However, Oates’s stories rewrite the word “victim” by offering a rape script that uses rape not only as a symbol of male domination over (powerless) female bodies, but also pre- and post-scripted narratives that creatively challenge the stereotype that all women are mad because they are “symbolically positioned in what exceeds.” Oates’s stories thus debunk the phallic totem in favor of the feminine totemic value of art in the representation of rape, as these narratives invite further reflection and discussion with the audience on Oates’s feminist stance in today’s #MeToo aftermath in American society.

  • 2 Gavin Cologne-Brookes used “JCO” to refer to the authorial voice which emanates from the ensemble o (...)

8At the end of the first day of the conference, Gavin Cologne-Brookes (Bath Spa University) delivered his keynote address “Joyce Carol Ghost and Feminism: Facts Found and Foundered,” that prompted us to reflect collectively and pragmatically on our response to Oates—and art in general. Is Oates a feminist? Should we read her work from a feminist perspective? Does it matter? And to whom? The seemingly deviant use of feminist tropes in her fiction allows for a wider range of interpretations, which has epistemic and pragmatic value in itself. By engaging the audience with a series of questions—“in Babysitter, is the protagonist alive or dead? Secondly, is the doctor male or female?”—, Gavin Cologne-Brookes playfully discussed the conceptual framework within which Oates’s fiction and non-fiction had been examined in the conference thus far. By deconstructing conflicting views on the meaning we might give to ‘feminism’ or ‘Oates,’ the keynote address revealed our own biases when it comes to interpreting characters as they interpret themselves. The conceptual platform for the staging of Oates’s narratives, under the umbrella term of “feminism,” maps out the various meanings we give to art in general. Oates’s uncomfortable truths and persona—‘JCO’ who reads ‘Oates’ who reads ‘JCO’2—are constantly moving, eluding, changing, and purposefully altering our worldview. In a still largely male-dominated age, Oates & JCO both lead by example. The author’s obsession with self-invention, identity, personality, and performance, recalls key theories by feminist critics such as Judith Butler and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick. Oates’s poetic treatment of one of the “greatest makeup artists of her time” in Blonde (2000) indeed relies on the creation of performative characters, narratives, and strategies. In this light, Oates’s writing is in conversation with, against, within, and outside of, feminism. While Oates exhorts readers to have sympathy, Gavin Cologne-Brookes wittily encouraged the audience to have empathy: “first with the writer; second with the reader.” Whether in Blonde, Man Crazy, The Falls, Babysitter, or Beasts, Oates has been condensing active, living, innovative, and cruel paradoxes in her characters. In search of something real beyond the illusion and the performance of identities, Oates discloses the (male), (female), (human), animal behind the make-up in all of us. Because Oates shares meaningful conceptual characteristics with the very phenomenon her fiction mediates, as analyzed by this conference, she remains paradoxically elusive herself as both a storyteller and a woman who has lived through four waves of feminism.

9On Saturday, March 2nd, the third panel, chaired by Sara Watson (Aix-Marseille University), opened with a presentation by Stéphanie Durrans (University of Bordeaux Montaigne) entitled “The Mudwoman in the Academia: The Spectral Presence of Jane Eyre and Antoinette Cosway in Joyce Carol Oates’s Mudwoman.” In her 2012 novel, Oates delves into M.R. Neukirchen’s confrontation with a haunting past. As she reaches the pinnacle of her career, connections between Brontë’s Jane in Jane Eyre (1847) and Rhys’s Antoinette in Wide Sargasso Sea (1966) help us elucidate the consequences of this legacy and explore the two faces of feminism that guide Oates’s approach: both the bright and dark sides of women’s fight for recognition and equality. First, the twin selves of M.R. and Jane Eyre are seen through similar themes of romance, exile, or returning to a devastated home. The connection to Antoinette, as well as the whole process at work in Mudwoman, is crystallized in the following quote: “Their Quaker faith was so very wide, all-encompassing—a Sargasso Sea without boundaries and without a Savior” (42). Intertextual connections to Brontë’s and Rhys’s novels offer M.R. new identities to adopt or be incorporated into against her will: these specters haunt her consciousness. Therefore, Mudwoman shatters the illusion of individual selves and instead highlights a process of diffraction through M.R.’s alternative, multiple, fragmented identities. If Oates’s heroine is part of a much larger, all-encompassing network, aren’t we all daughters of this madwoman indeed? Lastly, Durrans explored skepticism as a mode of knowledge through M.R.’s role as a moral philosopher. This character questions the solidity of knowledge, preferring skepticism to absolute truth. She embodies traits of both Antoinette Cosway and Jane Eyre, and even absorbs many more alternative selves along the way, leaving her voiceless and expressing herself through multiple (literary) identities. In conclusion, Oates’s novel can be seen as a space of projection for women struggling to find a place for themselves in a male-dominated world.

10Tanya Tromble-Giraud (Aix-Marseille University) then discussed “The Specter of Body Horror Haunting Joyce Carol Oates’s The Chair of Tranquility and Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wall-Paper” in a thought-provoking dialectic and intertextual analysis. Displaying unknown female narrators’ voices being silenced by the crème de la crème of nineteenth century medical misogyny, both Gilman and Oates’s texts engage in a fictional account of the “Rest Cure” as developed by Silas Weir Mitchell in the 1860s: a treatment that forced female patients to “rest.” Quite ironically, Gilman, who underwent the “Rest Cure” herself in 1887 and was advised by Mitchell to “live as domestic a life as possible” and “never to touch pen, brush or pencil again,” wrote The Yellow-Paper in 1892. By examining the meaningful intertextuality between the two stories in terms of narrative, structure, themes, the contexts in which they were published, and what they sought to achieve, Tanya Tromble-Giraud demonstrated that Gilman’s text haunts “The Chair of Tranquility” which was published in A Darker Shade of Noir: New Stories of Body Horror By Women Writers (2023). Oates explicitly addresses some of the elements that were implicit in Gilman’s text, by focusing on the “cure” experience from the narrator’s perspective in her diary and using techniques such as the literalization of metaphor. Whereas social and medical discourse functioned as a metaphorical straitjacket in Gilman’s story, Oates’s takes it literally. Her narrator is literally restrained to exaggerate and intensify the body horror as she is forced to rest, eat excessively, and be subjected to various kinds of massage for having committed a “moral crime” against her husband, i.e. rejecting his sexual advances. Oates’s narrative focuses on her narrator’s loss of voice and sense of self. She depicts the “cure” experience as a psychological and physical form of torture which alters the narrator’s body. With the metaphor of the “chair of tranquility,” Oates sheds light on women’s right to bodily autonomy, which reflects her own concern with the overturning in 2022 of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision which had guaranteed the federal constitutional right to abortion. While the historical accuracy of Oates’s story was put into perspective throughout the talk, reading these two texts in parallel still bears historical value as Oates grotesquely textualizes patriarchy as a devious ideology. By parodying her fictional doctor as an abject guru figure who indoctrinates the narrator, Oates’s text denounces self-righteous fathers, husbands, and doctors who feel entitled to cleanse women of their sins, including reading and writing. Keeping in mind that the real-life doctors who inspired Oates’s story had patients who died under their care, just like the narrator in Oates’s story, Gilman and her narrator strike us as survivors whose voices offer a unique feminist site of memory behind the not-so-tranquille specter of gyno-psychiatry that inspired Oates’s soon to be published novel Butcher (2024).

11The last session of the conference was chaired by Nicolas Boileau (Aix-Marseille University). He introduced Gérald Préher (University of Artois), who presented “The Machine in Joyce Carol Oates’s Evil Gardens: Car Culture and Women’s Power in a Selection of Short Stories.” The panelist began with a word about Oates’s exploration of a garden that reflects her characters’ desire to withdraw from civilization and embrace power and complexity. Quoting Tanya Tromble-Giraud who expressed that gardens “stand for the disordered mental states of their proprietors,” Préher explained that Oates’s characters often reflect the chaotic world around them, where stability is elusive and ordinary situations are disrupted by unexpected events. This theme of instability and constant change is exemplified by the intrusion of cars into Oates’s narratives. Cars, which symbolize mobility and autonomy in American culture, disrupt the already edgy situations in her stories. In “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” (1993), the arrival of a car symbolizes both possibility and danger for the protagonist, Connie. A process of defamiliarization takes place: the home becomes as unfamiliar as the outside, and adventure is tempting in the face of domestic boredom—but because cars carry a sexual connotation, the credibility of the victim is often diminished. When Connie accepts to leave her house, she also accepts to be Arnold’s victim, unlike other characters who leave the driver’s seat to take control of their destiny. Oates therefore goes beyond portraying cars as mere symbols of transportation. Rather, cars become extensions of her characters’ identities, empowering them to assert control over their lives. In “Lover,” the car symbolizes liberation for the protagonist, becoming her faithful accomplice, fusing her identity with its power, and ultimately enabling her to seal her (tragic) fate. Whether it is the allure of the open road or the sense of freedom a car provides, Oates’s female characters find agency and empowerment through their interactions with machines that eventually shape their destinies.

  • 3 Tromble, Tanya, “Thrill or Angst? Metaphysical Implications of Rewriting the Detective Plot in Joyc (...)

12In the final paper of the conference, “The Blinding Lights of Postfeminist Empowerment in Joyce Carol Oates’s ‘Night, Neon’” Stéphanie Maerten (Independent Scholar) explored the contradictions of feminism in ‘Night, Neon’ by focusing on the blinding allure of postfeminist empowerment. Maerten began by presenting Juliana, the story’s main protagonist, as a postfeminist heroine who rejects the feminist notion of passive women as victims of patriarchy that other of Oates’s female characters seem to embody. This idea is represented by her decision to enter the neon cafe armed and thus capable of self-defense, but also by the numerous accounts of sexual aggression against women in the story: “Juliana recalls having heard something had happened to a woman in that other tavern recently. Nineteen years old, disappeared. Not at the Blue Moon Café, however” (224). A clear distance is established between Juliana and these women, with vagueness (“recently”) and contrast to her own situation (marked by the determiner “that” and the adverb “however”). Later, through flashbacks, Juliana recalls episodes from her past, each involving a man, milestones of her self-awareness and empowerment that reflect a postfeminist sensibility. Oates uses references to other of her stories such as “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” (1993), juxtaposing Juliana’s survival with Connie’s implied tragic fate. However, two flashbacks that parallel A Fair Maiden (2010) and Blonde (2000) question Juliana’s self-consciousness and power. In fact, she is being humiliated by two men and still believes she is in control of the situation: “This is just a game. This is not serious” (269). The reader perceives Juliana’s contrived confidence, her choice to see herself as empowered when she clearly is not. Throughout the story, Oates also reveals Juliana’s methods of self-reassurance to conceal her vulnerability. For example, after each assault, she uses italicized phrases such as: “He didn’t hurt you, you are alive” (275), which have been interpreted by Tanya Tromble-Giraud to “stand for thoughts that come to us unbidden, from our deep subconscious.”3 The rhetoric of individual choice blames Juliana for the violence she has endured and obscures systemic issues. The questions “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” that served as ominous warnings for Connie echo Juliana’s story, as Oates’s narrative leaves room for uncertainty, reflecting the unmet promises of post-feminism. “Night, Neon” urges readers to question contemporary feminist rhetoric that offers women an illusory empowerment, without drawing lessons from the past, and thus challenges patriarchal influence for a truly liberated future.

  • 4 We are borrowing the phrase from Oates’s essay “(Woman) Writer: Theory and Practice.”

13In the final discussion and closing remarks of the conference, organizers, panelists, and participants pondered on the feminist ideas that haunted all of their exchanges. The papers presented at the conference will be published in a special issue of the online journal Bearing Witness: Joyce Carol Oates Studies. Overall, this two-day program enabled scholars from different backgrounds to connect and reflect collectively, as well as self-reflexively, on what they mean by “feminism” in their own research through the study of Oates’s fictional and nonfictional writing. The rich debates that followed the presentations on feminist concepts used in literary studies highlighted the inherent and generative diversity under the umbrella of “Oates” and “feminism.” Should critics continue to use words such as “feminist” and “agency” alongside “female” or “male” categories, to analyze contemporary literary texts in light of the four waves of feminism and its influence on the American literary scene? The author’s emphasis on the universality of the female experience of body horror as inherently part of female biology and her discourse on the biological category of sex and gender roles could be interpreted as essentialist and binary from a queer perspective. Heteronormative elements, as found in Oates’s works, would need to be further addressed beyond the scope of this conference, as heterosexual narratives were the main objects of study—hence calling for future feminist queer readings of Oates’s work. Offering a great diversity of perspectives on the notion of feminism(s) by examining Oates’s own haunting relationship to sex, gender, and power dynamics in the aftermath of #MeToo, #BlackLivesMatter, the specter of Trump’s presidency and the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade—one of the most significant pieces of feminist legislation—, this conference not only voiced the relevance of Oates’s engagement with current feminist affairs, but also reflected back on her own concern with how to align a (woman) writer’s “theory and practice” with notions of gender.4

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1 Oates, J.C., “Stories That Define Me”, New York Times. 11 July 1982. Accessed 24 April 2024.

2 Gavin Cologne-Brookes used “JCO” to refer to the authorial voice which emanates from the ensemble of Oates’s work in comparison to the real-life person Joyce Carol Oates.

3 Tromble, Tanya, “Thrill or Angst? Metaphysical Implications of Rewriting the Detective Plot in Joyce Carol Oates’s The Falls” in Clues: A Journal of Detection, vol. 35, no. 1, 2017, p. 105.

4 We are borrowing the phrase from Oates’s essay “(Woman) Writer: Theory and Practice.”

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Julie Agu et Maria-Luna Aillaud, « International Conference: “Specters of Feminism in the Work of Joyce Carol Oates” »Transatlantica [En ligne], 1 | 2024, mis en ligne le 01 juin 2024, consulté le 13 juillet 2024. URL : ; DOI :

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Julie Agu

LERMA UR 853 – Aix-Marseille University

Maria-Luna Aillaud

LERMA UR 853 – Aix-Marseille University

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