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Intersubjectivity in the pregnant self: maternity from Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex, through Agnès Varda’s L’Opéra Mouffe to contemporary feminist thought

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
JournalStudies in European Cinema
Published4 Nov 2018

King's Authors


In her recent study of Agnès Varda’s films and feminist film theory, Hilary Neroni argues that the director’s L’Opéra-Mouffe/Diary of a Pregnant Woman ‘explores the contradictions in pregnancy’ and the philosophical questions it raises. Some of these questions, specifically those around the pregnant self’s embodiment of subject and Other, form the crux of this article. It examines these intersubjective issues and death’s inherent presence to life as each manifests in the pregnant self, engaging with Simone de Beauvoir’s argument that there is an inevitable passage between birth and death ‘incarnated in the Mother’. Although this paper reveals similarities between representations of the pregnant body in L’Opéra-Mouffe and Beauvoir’s early philosophical thought, it will also engage with contemporary feminist theory on pregnancy, arguing that Varda’s film complicates Beauvoir's stance. In doing so, it enters into dialogue with voices such as that of Sarah LaChance Adams and Caroline R. Lundquist, who recently suggested that where other scholars ‘have embraced life by way of death, they have typically evaded another fundamental truth of our existence, the book-end at the other end of life – birth’. In its analyses of both death and pregnancy in Varda’s film, this article goes some way to rectifying this deficit.

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