Visiting Portuguese Writer
“Fat Women: Exclusion and Desire”
Thursday, September 8, 2011
Fat women have been artistic models, monsters, fetish objects, and in today’s world have taken on the status of a growing minority. What does it mean to be a fat woman in a traditional society? How does the fat woman, whose femininity is threatened by her obesity, relate to others—people in the street, partners, family, art, hedonism? What do fat women think of their own bodies? Are they denied access to sensuality, to desire? Can we propose the existence of the social construction of an unrealistic fatness? What is a real body? Is there a place for a "mental fatness," which the fat woman could maintain, even after her subjection to invasive weight loss procedures? These are some of the questions which Isabela Figueiredo examines in her new novel, A Gorda (The Fat Woman) (Angelus Novus, forthcoming), and which will be discussed in this talk.
Isabela Figueiredo, a noted literary figure in Portugal, is this year’s Visiting Portuguese Writer. She comes to Notre Dame and will speak at the Kellogg Institute thanks to an ongoing partnership with the Luso-American Development Foundation (FLAD). An influential and stimulating blogger, Figueiredo writes frequently on her blog Novo Mundo, which serves as a starting point for her books.
For an interview with Figueiredo conducted by Faculty Fellow Isabel Ferreira Gould, click here.
In the biography below she shares her story in her own words.
Isabela Figueiredo was born in Mozambique in 1963 and lived there until 1975, when the colony declared independence from Portugal. Isabel returned to Portugal, her parent's country, and has lived there ever since.
An only child, and much loved by her parents, she was educated to appreciate the value of work and education as ways to personal growth and the betterment of society. Despite her parents’ wish that she become an agronomist, Isabela followed her passion for literature by taking a degree in Portuguese Studies (Modern Language and Literature) in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Universidade Nova de Lisboa. She is now a secondary school teacher of Portuguese, a profession she enjoys, despite the time it takes from her literary pursuits.
Her intellectual interests include gender studies, post-colonial studies, sociology, history, and ecology. She started writing in 1983, publishing texts and chronicles in the literary supplement of the Diário de Noticias, at the time the most influent Portuguese newspaper. In 1988 she won first prize in the Mostra Portuguesa de Artes e Ideias (Portuguese Exhibition of Arts and Ideas) for her novel Conto é Como Quem Diz (A Tale, So to Speak). In 2009 her Caderno de Memórias Coloniais (Notebook of Colonial Memories) was published to widespread acclaim. [Ed. note: Published by Angelus Novus, Caderno is in its 5th edition.]
Apart from literature, she enjoys cinema, plastic arts, strolling aimlessly, and walking on the beach in winter. Isabela adores animals, especially cats and dogs, her great friends since childhood. She has two very old dogs who lie by her feet as she writes. Her dream is to travel the world with her pets, learning the languages and cultures of the countries she visits, writing and reading, always.