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Annabel L.

Literature - United States

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Ought to fiction

Ought to Fiction critiques contemporary French literature’s turn toward the real, evinced by the craze for autofiction and historical fiction, by examining how both cast literature as the expression of identity—a position that relinquishes the freedom that can be found in literature to transcend the boundaries of the real that constrain us in our lived lives.
While the egocentric stakes of autofiction are clear, I argue that historical fiction, in the form of exofiction, or fictionalized biography, may seem to transcend the self, but is in fact another kind of autofiction, where the auto isn’t that of the individual self we find in traditional autofiction, but rather, the auto of a French nation fantasizing about possessing a self, a coherent identity, via a displacement onto the biographical.
Ought to Fiction calls for fiction to be fiction and warns against turning fiction into a site for the reproduction of the very real fictions of identity that undergird the contemporary xenophobic, populist geopolitical landscape.

Translation into English of Monique Wittig’s Le Chantier littéraire

Monique Wittig’s Le Chantier littéraire (Presses universitaires de Lyon, 2010), published posthumously, is simultaneously one of the feminist author and theorist’s most neglected as well as one of her most important works. This project of translating Wittig’s ars poetica into English is undertaken in the hope of making available to a broad audience Wittig’s landmark work, which rectifies the way Wittig’s literary and theoretical productions have been cut off from each other. Le Chantier littéraire shows how, for Wittig, the literary is political and the political, literary, and represents a bold reworking of the way we conceive of the interface between the two.

Activities / Resume


Annabel Kim is associate professor of Romance Languages and Literatures at Harvard University.
A specialist of 20th- and 21st-century French literature, Kim is the author of two monographs Unbecoming Language: Anti-Identitarian French Feminist Fictions (Ohio State UP, 2018) and Cacaphonies: The Excremental Canon (University of Minnesota Press, 2022).
Kim’s work on contemporary authors such as Marie Darrieussecq, Anne Garréta, Daniel Pennac, and Leïla Slimani has appeared in PMLA, French Studies, diacritics, L’Esprit Créateur, Revue critique de fixxion française contemporaine, Contemporary French and Francophone Studies/SITES, as well as more public-facing venues such as Public Books and AOC [Analyse Opinion Critique].


  • Cacaphonies: The Excremental Canon (University of Minnesota Press, 2022)
  • Unbecoming Language: Anti-Identitarian French Feminist Fictions (Ohio State UP, 2018)
  • “A Return to Culture: Literature as Ecology,” Contemporary French and Francophone Studies/SITES 25, no. 1 (2021): 85–94.
  • “Leïla Slimani’s Taboos,” Public Books, January 5, 2021
  • “A Tale of Two Forests: Marie Darrieussecq’s Humanism,” L’Esprit Créateur 60, no. 3 (2020): 73–84.
  • “Dans l’béton, dans la merde: Anne Garréta’s Intractable Materiality,” Fixxion: Revue critique de fixxion française contemporaine 21 (2020): 121–30.
  • “The Excremental Poetics of Daniel Pennac’s Journal d’un corps.” French Studies 73, no. 3 (2019): 416–33.
  • “La croisée des mondes – à propos de La mer à l’envers de Marie Darrieussecq.” AOC Media. September 2019.
  • “Autofiction Infiltrated: Anne Garréta’s Pas un jour.” PMLA 133, no.3 (2018): 559–74.
  • “The Riddle of Racial Difference in Anne Garréta’s Sphinx.” Diacritics 45, no. 1 (2017): 4–22.
  • “Marie Darrieussecq’s Clèves: A Wittigian Rewriting of Adolescence.” Studies in 20th and 21st Century Literature 40, no. 1 (March 2016)