The draft French seminar series | Could Fleabag be a Parisienne? Camille Cottin’s Star Image and a New French Femininity
A seminar series on research in progress in French and Francophone Studies in Australia
Presented by the Department of French and Francophone Studies
Could Fleabag be a Parisienne?
Camille Cottin’s Star Image and a New French Femininity
Dr Mimi Kelly (University of Sydney) and Dr Victoria Souliman (University of New England)
Our article project discusses Camille Cottin’s star image, considering more specifically what was at stake in her 2019 performance in Mouche, the French remake of British tragicomedy TV series Fleabag created by Phoebe Waller-Bridge. The framework of this remake and the transposition of Cottin in the character played by Waller-Bridge offers a discussion on the representation of female sexuality and gender through the main character of Mouche and Fleabag. We argue that the nexus of Cottin’s gendered stardom both meets and transgresses the ideals of the cinematic type of the Parisienne
(Chaplin, 2017), which may lead us to think that Cottin was the perfect fit to be the French version of Fleabag. However, as Mouche, her persona gestures toward the projection of a female subjectivity that escapes inscription into the French cultural imagination and social practices. Drawing from theories of the abject and the female grotesque as a subversive strategy to challenge gendered expectations in Fleabag, we consider how effectively this is transposed to Cottin’s version of the character. We also consider how the strategy of breaking the fourth wall, which creates a personalised connection with the character of Fleabag, mimics the personalised and intimate connection to celebrities that social media now offers. We suggest that Cottin’s on-screen persona competes with her star image, threatening to eradicate the space of spectatorial jouissance necessary for the processes of cinematic identification and intimate connection.
About the speakers
Dr Mimi Kelly is a lecturer in Art History at the University of Sydney, Australia. Her knowledge field sits at the intersection of art, popular culture and gender studies. Her specialisation focusses on curatorial pedagogies, object-based learning, digital installation, performance art, photomedia and global encounters via social media platforms. She also participates in research projects focusing on audience engagement and public cultural spaces. She completed her PhD through Sydney College of the Arts in 2019.
Dr Victoria Souliman is a lecturer in French studies at the University of New England, Australia. She completed her PhD in Art History at the University of Sydney, Australia, and in Anglophone Studies at Université de Paris, France, in 2019. Her research focuses on issues of national identity, expatriatism and women’s agency in the artistic exchanges between Australia, France and Britain in the early 20th century. Prior to joining UNE in 2020, she lectured in Art History at the University of Sydney.
For more information, contact: Associate Professor Michelle Royer – firstname.lastname@example.org
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