As a trope, theme, myth and very real space, what is at stake in the frequent artistic, cultural and philosophical articulations of the beach in French thought? Adopting a variety of approaches, this is the question that the essays in this collection seek to address. The beach in twentieth and twenty-first century French philosophy, literature and visual culture represents both limit and liminal space. It is a site of multiple encounters with both the other and the self, of arrivals and departures, of both hedonistic freedom and colonial subordination. At the same time, it is the no-man’s land where, as Michel Foucault suggests at the end of The Order of Things, man’s image is literally washed away.
The essays compiled in this collection, explore the French and Francophone beach via the various encounters this complex and multiple space engenders alongside the role it has come to play in both a French and global cultural imaginary. Bringing together a range of critical perspectives from scholars working in fields such as literature, film, philosophy, gender and cultural studies, the collection analyses the violent erasures and appropriations associated with the French beach whilst also calling for a reimagining of the beach as creative, ethical space.