I’m Raquelle K. Bostow, and I currently lecture at Vanderbilt University in the Department of French & Italian. I started my PhD at Vanderbilt in August 2012, finished it in August 2017, and collected a variety of research interests along the way.
Writing is a part of my work life in many ways. As a researcher, I often write about the depiction of female bodies and characters in francophone literature. At the moment, I’m transforming my dissertation into a book titled Medusian Apparitions: Reading Contemporary French Prose with Hélène Cixous. In this project, I read three works of francophone literature from the late 20th and 21st centuries through the lens of Hélène Cixous’s writings on sexual difference and the Medusa. To expose the contemporary resonance of mythological stories and the persistent depiction of woman as femme fatale, I highlight how the male characters in the novels of study portray and contain the female protagonists as sexually dangerous bodies in a variety of contexts: a contemporary Parisian suburb, the postcolonial intra-state war of Lebanon, and an ultra-orthodox Jewish community in Israel. But more importantly, I claim that the female protagonists of each novel counter the male gaze with productive, feminist reclamations of the Medusa. So, In the end, this not-so-mythological woman figures as a tool for the radical, feminist realignment of old relationships between female bodies, danger, and death.
I am also working on a few articles. One is about the topic of frigidity in Simone de Beauvoir’s Le deuxième sexe (The Second Sex), another is about the queer nature of Hélène Cixous’s Medusa in “Le rire de la Méduse,” and yet another is about the conceptualization of the “divine” in Eliette Abécassis’s La répudiée.
As a teacher of French language and literature, I also write lesson plans, give students feedback on their language and writing skills…and of course write endless emails to students and colleagues!
Right now, I am on the job market. Besides tenure-track careers at colleges and universities, I have also applied for academic and education abroad advising positions, editing jobs, and post docs working and researching in libraries. In my posts at SWW, I will share the trials, failures, and successes of navigating the next step of my career and personal life.
Away from work, you will often find me reading, writing in my journal, making lists, and recording to-do lists and appointments in my newly beloved Hobonichi planner. My writing is inspired by all of the people and things I come into contact with on a daily basis, including my wonderful partner. His endless creativity–including baking naturally leavened bread, playing guitar (and now piano), being a kickass yogi, and constantly breaking out into song–is a source for my own.
And, of course, this blog also serves as a vital source of inspiration. I love reading the stimulating and daring pieces that our SWW authors share.
Stay tuned for how writing continues to be a part of my adventures at work and in my everyday!