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Sophie Coavoux

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1In this latest number of Transtext(e)sTranscultures we publish papers presented at the one-day workshop organized by GL3 (Gender Lyon 3) which took place 25th October 2013.

2Purposefully setting the question of gender in an interdisciplinary and transcultural perspective, the theme proposed, “Gender and Kinship: Practices and Representations,”  opened up a discussion between several areas: Chinese studies, Korean studies, Hispanic studies, Japanese studies, Modern Greek studies, History, Classical studies (Latin language and literature).

3Based on the genealogical model and on the institution of marriage, the traditional conception of kinship, which has contributed to the construction of a hierarchical order of gender relations in modern western societies, has been radically challenged for the past thirty years. However, the profound changes experienced by the family since the mid-1960s (decline in birth and marriage rates, growing rates of natural birth, and divorce, the emergence of new family forms – same-sex parenting, single parenting, blended families –, and Medically Assisted Procreation), have have far not given rise to a consensus. The issue of kinship still remains central to a debate over ethical and ideological concerns that crystallises the traditional tension, if not the opposition, between familialist and individualist conceptions.

4Furthermore, the idea of a universal and timeless conception of kinship and of the relations between kinship and gender is undermined by the confrontation with otherness brought to the fore by anthropology and ethnology. If the otherness highlighted by the research in these two areas is, for some, a questionable argument, it is, nevertheless, undeniable that many resolutely constructivist cultural representations aim to expand the meanings of gender and kinship, and contest any rigid normative category. The transcultural approach promotes a shift in perspectives, in time and space, leading to a renewal of the theoretical debate on gender and kinship, around the concepts natural/cultural and given/constructed.

5Now that society is starting to take note of these changes, we wished to examine kinship through the prism of gender, and thus begin to take stock.

6The contributions fall into three parts:

71- Kinship narratives and (re)writing of the self

8Nicolas Balutet, Hispanic studies, Marge (CEDFL) : "Mexican kinships at the time of the Revolution"

9Belen Hernandez, Hispanic studies, Marge (CEDFL) : "Pedro Almodóvar: maternity as performativity"

10Sophie Coavoux, Modern Greek studies, IETT : "Strella (A Woman's way, Panos Koutras, 2009): a queer version of the Œdipus myth"

112- Language and kinship, mother tongue, name issue

12Ayame Hosoi, Japanese studies, IETT: "Is the Japanese language the "mother"of Zainichi ?Myth and policy of the mother tongue in some zainichi writers"

13Marine Bretin-Chabrol, Classical studies (Latin language and literature), HISOMA : " Why do the French believe that Brutus was Caesar's son?"

143- Fathers, mothers, nurses

15Min Sook Wang-Le, Korean studies, IETT: "New image of the mother in the novel Mayonnaise, by Jeon Hye-sung"

16Jacqueline Estran, Chinese studies, IETT: "The Missing Father in Chinese Women's Writing in the 1920s"

17Emmanuelle Romanet, History, IETT : "Fostering: a widespread practice in 19th century France"

18The first part of the triptych, "Kinship narratives and (re)writing of the self ", includes three texts that tackle the theme of "Gender and kinship" through the prism of literature and cinema, in a LGBT perspective.

19Through the study of three Mexican novels, Como agua para chocolate (1989) by Laura Esquivel, Por debajo del agua (2002) by Fernando Zamora and Por si no te vuelvo a ver (2007) by Laura Martínez-Belli, Nicolas Balutet questions the very meaning of "kinship." He intends to show that it is not synonymous with a biological link and we should not confuse  generation (conceiving and giving birth to a child) with commitment (the parental project around the child).

20Belen Hernandez analyses Pedro Almodóvar’s work, in which kinship is a prevalent theme. The Spanish filmmaker questions the issue of motherhood, while he tries to expand the concept of kinship, presenting us with other models, new representations of motherhood, through transsexuals who become mothers. Therefore his dedication, at the end of All About My Mother, to women actresses, to men who pretend to be women, makes sense because, for Almodóvar, you were not born a mother/father, you become one.

21The text of Sophie Coavoux provides an analysis of the film Strella, directed by Panos Koutras (2009), whose major theme is that of kinship. We can consider the film a queer revision, and even a queer rewriting, of the foundations of Greek culture, from Antiquity to popular culture: the myth of Œdipus and Sophocles' tragedy (Œdipus the King), but also Maria Callas and Melina Mercouri. This paper aims to analyse this narrative of queer kinship, to show how Strella is an attempt to renew traditional understandings of the family and sexual, gendered identities, and to dismantle the cultural norms imposed on gender, kinship and love.

22The subsequent two articles deal with a central question in the debate on gender and kinship, that of language, and constitute the second part of the discussion: "Language and kinship, mother tongue, name issue."

23Focusing on the question of mother tongue, of central importance among Zainichi, Korean nationals established in Japan, Ayame Hosoi examines the way this mother tongue manifests itself through some literary works. Furthermore, she questions the concept of “mother tongue” itself in the context of modernity and tries to reveal the politico-historical schema in which the Zainichi’s mother tongue is perceived as a bicephalous mother. At the same time, she argues that in parallel another mother tongue, or rather a generator of language, can be heard behind the words. For some writers, this unidentifiable generator appears like a kind of impossibility to express themselves.

24In her article, which refers to Roman history, Marine Bretin Chabrol challenges and analyses the historical confusion which presents Marcus Junius Brutus as Caesar's son. This interpretation of the events, passed on by a well-established scholarly tradition, is a misinterpretation. Twisting a statement aired by Plutarch, the French tradition has made a young man who was the son of Caesar's lover Servilia, and therefore, possibly, his biological son, into Caesar's adopted son. In that version, the dictator's murder is made more dramatic because of the tragic side of the parricide.

25The third part of the triptych, "Fathers, mothers, nurses", concerns various issues related to the organization of the family and childcare, and the literary representation of the figures of the mother and father.

26In her article, Min Sook Wang-Le analyses the work of the woman writer Jeon Hye-sung, and more specifically, the novel Mayonnaise, with the aim of understanding how she envisages the relationships between mother and daughter. The novel demystifies the image of the sacrificial and/or asexual mother. The mother is not here in a position of form-subject, limited to the sole function of motherhood, but of an independent subject totally assuming her autonomy. In this sense, Jeon Hey-seong adopts a theme which has today in Korea become a recurrent topic in women's writing, through the foregrounding of the complexity of the image of the mother in a new perspective.

27Jacqueline Estran examines the issue of kinship which is central to the organization of Chinese traditional society, and which was heavily questioned at the beginning of twentieth-century: The revolt of the son against the father, and the revolt of women against tradition. If research has focused on the figure of the mother in women’s literature, far less is known about the father. In this article, the lack of the paternal figure in the writings of four representative women writers, Bing Xin 冰心 (1900-1999), Lu Yin 廬隱 (1898-1934), Ling Shuhua 淩叔華 (1900-1990) and Feng Yuanjun 馮沅君 (1900-1974) is scrutinized.

28Last, in an historical approach, Emmanuelle Romanet proposes a study on fostering in  nineteenth-century France. More specifically, she focuses on the case of Lyon, where   mercenary breast-feeding was common, and where fostering of newborns was a very old and traditional practice. This case study reminds us that the model of at-home housewives caring for their children only became a dominant pattern in the twentieth century. Thi kind of practices raises many questions, and this analysis can lead to a larger scale reflexion, on the organization of the family unit and childcare.

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Sophie Coavoux, « Editorial », Transtext(e)s Transcultures 跨文本跨文化 [En ligne], 8 | 2013, mis en ligne le 02 décembre 2013, consulté le 30 septembre 2020. URL :

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Sophie Coavoux

Sophie Coavoux est Maître de conférences de grec moderne à l’Université Jean Moulin (Lyon) et membre de l’IETT (Institut d'Études Transtextuelles et Transculturelles). Sa thèse de doctorat sur le poète grec C. P. Cavafy a été soutenue en 2008. Ses travaux portent sur la littérature grecque moderne et sur les questions du genre et de la diaspora.
Sophie Coavoux is Maître de conférences in Modern Greek Studies at the Jean Moulin University (Lyon 3) and a member of the IETT (Institute for Transtextual and Transcultural Studies). Her doctorate on the Greek poet C. P. Cavafy was completed in 2008. Her current research focuses on Modern Greek literature, gender and diaspora.

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