To make pastry: Combine flour, sugar, cornmeal, and salt in a large bowl. With pastry blender or two knives used scissors fashion, cut in butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Add ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing lightly with a fork until pastry is moist enough to hold together and begins to come away from sides of bowl. Form doughinto a disc and wrap tightly in plastic. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface; shape into a 14-inch circle. Transfer to prepared sheet.
To make filling: Sprinkle top of dough with half of sugar. Trim stems from figs and cut each lengthwise into 4 or 5 slices. Arrange figs on pastry in concentric circles, slightly overlapping and with a 2-inch border around edge. Sprinkle fruit with remaining sugar. Lift pastry edge and fold over filling to make a pleated border.
Bake tart 45 to 50 minutes, until fruit is bubbling and edges are golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool at least 30 minutes. Top with whipped cream, if desired.