Ann Manov

Ann Manov
Mentor: Dr. Gayle Zachmann
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
 
"I have been involved in my research since my first semester at UF, first as a laboratory assistant in Neurology, then as an Independent Study student researching Senegalese ethnicity in Political Science, then as a research fellow at media law professor Clay Calvert's Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Project, and finally with my faculty mentor Professor Gayle Zachmann. Having explored many fields at UF, I am eager to continue my studies of French through the PhD level, and am happy to have the opportunity to work more independently and thoroughly on a project of my choice."

Major

French and Francophone Studies, English, Spanish

Minor

Latin American Studies

Research Interests

  • Exile and creativity
  • Mediatisation of art
  • Anti-liberationism

Academic Awards

  • Anderson Scholar (2013)
  • Ruth McQuown Scholar (2013)
  • Center for European Studies Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellow (2013)
  • Cross Examination Debate Association and National Debate Association Newcomer of the Year Awards (2012)

Organizations

  • Sigma Tau Delta English Honorary Society
  • Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English
  • University of Florida Mesa de Español

Volunteer

  • English Language Institute Conversation Partner
  • American Cancer Society Relay for Life Team Captain
  • Debate coaching

Hobbies and Interests

  • Squash
  • Film
  • Debate
  • Theatre

Research Description

Late 20th Century Anti-Liberationism in Michel Houellebecq
1968: a pivotal moment in French culture, when workers and students united against Catholicism, Gaullism, and sexual conservatism. Nation-wide, class-wide protests aimed at utopias, producing hippies, sex colonies, and--combined with the birth control pill, matrimonial reform, and Americanized media--increased acceptance of promiscuity. The subsequent commercialization of sex through advertisements and movies, however, led to disillusionment, as reflected in 1970s and 1980s “anti-liberationist” philosophies like those of Jean Baudrillard (1929-2007) and Michel Foucault (1926-1984). These authors, sympathetic to Marxism, argued that as consumerist society coopted the loosening of taboos, the injunction to have a healthy, active, and shameless sex life was replacing private freedom. Thirty years later, Michel Houellebecq took these questions by storm. Born in 1956, he has been hailed as “France’s greatest living novelist” (Chrisafis) and “a hero to disaffected French youth” (Gessen). He is, however, highly notorious, demonizing female sexuality and provocatively unraveling romanticized narratives of sexual liberation. Best known for Les Particules élémentaires (1998), in Plateforme (2001) he expands his critique from the commercialization of sex to its anchoring in global culture, connecting the failure of ‘68, the changing role of the European woman, and the clash of religious norms in an increasingly diverse Europe. Plateforme is both timely and incendiary; it suggests that free market sex is the final stage of sexual liberation, and stages a clash between French sex vacationers in Thailand and Islamist terrorists. Indeed, it was the reason for Houellebecq’s self-exile from France. In spite–or perhaps because—of his infamy, scholarly analysis of Houellebecq’s work remains sparse. Whereas critics allude to Houellebecq’s avowed appeal to nineteenth-century predecessors, rarely do they examine how—philosophically--his work engages contemporary cultural production. Anderson nostalgically contrasts this post-modern “Baudelaire of the supermarket” with post-‘68 thinkers, emphasizing Houellebecq’s inferiority and distance from the latter. But while scorned as a reactionary, he virulently critiques sexual liberty and free-market capitalism as did the heady radicals of the ’68 generation. I have sought support from the University Scholars Program in order to devote full-time effort to a study of late 20th century anti-liberationism in the work of Houellebecq. I specifically concentrate on the interrelationship between Baudrillard’s De la Séduction (1979) and Houellebecq’s criticism of the supposed liberation of sex in Extension du domaine de la lutte (1994), Les Particules élémentaires (1998), and Plateforme (2001). De la Séduction has generated more nuanced, and often feminist, debate than have Houellebecq’s novels. The intersections of these two writers’ works might help us to distinguish how Houellebecq’s novels engage very similar questions, including the role for women in a post-Fordist economy and the social quandaries of a diverse Europe.