- An International Conference
Reading Michèle Roberts
Department of British Literature and Culture, University of Lodz , Poland
7-8 September 2017
Call for Papers
Michèle Roberts is an author who escapes easy classifications, her books being as rich and complex as her personal history and the sources of her inspiration. Born in an Anglo-French family and raised in a repressive Catholic background, she has blossomed into a writer who draws inspiration from this complex heritage without being inhibited by its limitations. In consequence, her oeuvre—which includes novels, short stories, poems, essays and theatrical plays—offers a seemingly effortless marriage of oppositions. Like no other contemporary writer, Roberts combines spirituality with sensuality, engages literary tradition in the service of radical experiment and employs religious motifs and images to express progressive feminist ideas. Provocative and witty, her work ranges far beyond the trio of “food, sex and God” that she jokingly named as her principal thematic concerns.
The conference offers a rare opportunity to reflect on Michèle Roberts’s achievement by bringing together scholars interested in her writings. Papers are invited on all aspects of the author’s work. They may concentrate on particular texts or address recurrent themes, motifs and formal strategies. Suggested topics include, but are not limited to, the following:
· spirituality and religion
· feminist theology
· sensuality, desire and sexuality
· literary representation of sensory experience
· (maternal) body
· male/female dynamics
· family dynamics
· female space(s)
· feminine experience and identity
· history, memory and the past
· intertextuality: tradition and the practice of “writing back”
· historical, literary and biblical inspirations
· narrative technique and formal experiments
· representations of London / representations of small-town France
· language, symbolism, recurrent images and metaphors
· society, ideology and politics
We take pleasure in announcing that Michèle Roberts has kindly accepted our invitation to be a special guest speaker during the conference. Her presence will give the participants a unique opportunity to discuss their research ideas with the author.
Proposed presentations should be 20 minutes long. Please submit an abstract of 200-300 words, including the title of your presentation and a brief academic CV to email@example.com. The deadline for submissions is 1 June 2017 and the participants will be notified by 15 June 2017.
For further information, please visit the website http://www.reading.uni.lodz.pl/
Angela Carter in 2017
by Heidi Yeandle
February 2017 marks the 25th anniversary of Angela Carter’s premature death, and interest in Carter is consequently thriving. The Guardian is holding an Angela Carter Reading Group this month, and the ‘Strange Worlds: The Vision of Angela Carter’ exhibition is running at the Royal West of England Academy (RWA) in Bristol until 19 March 2017 (curated by Dr Marie Mulvey-Roberts from the University of the West of England, UWE, and Fiona Robinson, RWA). In line with this exhibition, an international conference Fireworks: The Visual Imagination of Angela Carter was held in January 2017 in Bristol, organised by Dr Marie Mulvey-Roberts and Dr Charlotte Crofts (UWE). A range of diverse publications have also emerged over the last few months, including Scott Dimovitz’s Angela Carter: Surrealist, Psychologist, Moral Pornographer (Routledge, 2016), Edmund Gordon’s The Invention of Angela Carter: A Biography (Chatto & Windus, 2016), Anna Watz’s Angela Carter and Surrealism: A Feminist Libertarian Aesthetic (Routledge, 2017), and Heidi Yeandle’s Angela Carter and Western Philosophy (Palgrave, 2017). There are still more publications in the pipeline: Mulvey-Roberts’ edited collection The Arts of Angela Carter: A Cabinet of Curiosities (Manchester University Press) is under preparation, and there is currently a call for book chapters for Pyrotechnics: The Incandescent Imagination of Angela Carter, edited by Mulvey-Roberts and Crofts. Bearing in mind the range of recent publications and events that celebrate Carter’s life and work, this piece discusses some of the developments in the current Carter world.
The availability of the Angela Carter Papers Collection at the British Library has resulted in a new wave of work on Carter underpinned by archival material: research notes, diary entries, and plans for novels and short stories. Sir Christopher Grayling’s keynote lecture ‘ANGELA and ME: A Bath Literary Friendship’ at the Fireworks conference in January 2017 was particularly revealing about the content of these papers. Reflecting on his friendship with Carter in the 1970s when she lived in Bath, Frayling recalled reading her notebooks and coming across conversations that he’d had with Carter. Carter’s account of these conversations was far from factual though; she had fictionalised and in some ways gothicised Frayling’s words, and these alternative dialogues feature in her published novels. With a number of recent publications referring to the archived material and commenting on its self-consciousness and unreliability (Dimovitz, Gordon, and Yeandle), Frayling’s reflection illustrates the veiled nature of Carter’s personal notes and the importance of not taking her words at face value.
Edmund Gordon’s 2016 biography of Carter demonstrates extensive engagement with the contents of the Angela Carter Papers Collection, but also references letters Carter wrote to friends and colleagues, as well as interviews with a range of people who knew Carter: family, friends, students, and ex-lovers. This publication therefore includes a range of new material, and is a useful resource for Carter scholars as well as wider readers. One particularly illuminating aspect of this publication is that it features extracts from the author’s interview with Sozo Araki, whom Carter had her ‘First Real Affair’ with in Japan (letter to Carmen Callil, Gordon 2016: p. 141), unveiling Sozo’s perspective on this formative time of Carter’s life. The biography also cites Sozo’s unpublished memoir, translated by Natsumi Ikoma from the International Christian University in Japan. Ikoma’s English translation of Sozo’s account is being published by Eihosha in Summer 2017, another exciting addition to the expanding body of literature related to Carter.
While engagement with both the archival material and the biography was central to many of the papers at the recent Fireworks event, the wide-ranging interdisciplinary focus of the conference paid tribute to both the diverse influences on Carter’s work as well as the influence she continues to have, as illustrated by the ‘Strange Worlds’ exhibition. With papers discussing Carter’s oeuvre in relation to cinema, surrealism, and the Gothic, as well as philosophy, theatre, and folk music, and examining topics such as the medieval influences on Carter’s early novels, the significance of tattooing, and the depiction of ageing to name a few, the event showcased the wealth of innovative research on Carter at the moment. It wasn’t just a literary event though, with talks from curators, artists, and musicians as well. For instance, Catriona McAra (Leeds College of Art, UK) discussed how Carter has shaped her curatorial strategies, and artist Kim L Pace reflected on Carter’s influence on her work, and showcased her film ‘Fabulous Beasts & Comic Bodies’, which includes Pace’s images alongside extracts from The Magic Toyshop (1967), ‘The Loves of Lady Purple’ (1974, in Fireworks), and Nights at the Circus (1984). Works by a range of contemporary artists inspired by Carter are featured in the ‘Strange Worlds’ exhibition, from Ana Maria Pacheco’s dominating installation The Banquet to Tail of the Tiger by Eileen Cooper RA, contradicting Gordon’s claim that Carter’s reputation is confined within ‘scholarly sarcophagi’ (Gordon 2016: p. 130).
It’s now 25 years since Carter’s death, and there is no sign of interest in her beginning to diminish: quite the opposite. Alongside new publications, exhibitions and art installations, a number of public events are on the horizon. These include a ‘Shadow Dance puppet workshop’, a Drawing Master Class inspired by Carter’s work on fairy tales, and a Folksong and Music Session inspired by Carter’s role in the 1960s Folk Revival. More information about these and other events is available at getangelacarter.com, a website related to the Bristol-based events commemorating the anniversary of Carter’s death, designed and curated by Crofts. In addition, Carter-related news and interviews are available at angelacarteronline.com, run by Dr Caleb Sivyer. These public events and websites are making Carter more visible and accessible for contemporary readers, and foregrounding her importance in 2017, and, it seems, for years to come.
Gordon, E. The Invention of Angela Carter: A Biography. London: Chatto & Windus, 2016.
CONVENTION AND REVOLUTION
Life writing by women in the 1800s and 1900s: archives, critiques and methods
29 November -1 December 2017 Warsaw, Poland
deadline for submissions: April 30, 2017
Organizers: Institute of Literary Research, Polish Academy of Sciences, Digital Humanities Laboratory, University of Warsaw, Institute of Slavic Studies, Polish Academy of Sciences
Long hours in the archives. Raise your hand if you have never yawned over letters of journals written by women of the centuries past. (No hands go up.) The thoughts creep in: this is so boring, so conventional, so predictable – and there’s another pile of pages to read…Fighting sleep, we still entertain hopes of revolutionary finds, fantastic rebel women, unknown facts about those who gained fame, controversies hidden among the yellowing pages. Yet in adopting this attitude, we are missing out on a far greater point. The very gesture of writing, when made by a woman, constitutes rebellion, and the conventionality of the text should not obscure this fact. Anachronism is the greatest power of any revolution. Many women, locked (quite literally) in their homes, using a narrative that mirrored what they had learnt, dreamt of freedom for themselves and others, whether that were aware of it or not. When they sat down to write, they created a moment just for themselves, and in doing so, they carved out a space of their own freedom – small at first, but gradually expanding – where they created themselves. They wrote themselves. With time, they became the subject of writing by other women, their biographers. Discovering, documenting and researching this chain of women’s lives suddenly no longer seems boring.
The international conference, scheduled to take place over three days, will focus on discussing the latest methods of working with women’s personal documents, biographies and letters written on their basis. We are interested in strategies developed in contemporary historiography and literature studies, in particular interdisciplinary women’s, gender and queer studies. We also have a strong interest in the experiences of researchers of herstory, oral history, and life writing. As for historical periods, we are interested mainly in the 1800s and the 1900s up to World War II. However, the true chronology will emerge out of the documents themselves. We have decided to focus on journals, letters, diaries and autobiographies of women in that period because it is, in our opinion, unique: this is when among Western elites the discourse of women’s emancipation was articulated and started gaining popularity. Most women at the time responded with great reserve and even hostility, choosing instead to support the traditional understanding of gender roles.
Personal documents written by women in the 19th century are an excellent reflection of the ambivalence of their authors towards emancipation. Since the 1980s, many scholarly papers have been written to demonstrate that these texts, while ostensibly fitting with the conventions of gender representation, in fact undermine the traditional gender roles. Submission and its subversion, conservative attitudes and emancipation (if not overt, then expressed through a variety of strategies to promote empowerment and women’s agency) – they meet, often in surprising ways, in these conventionalized, seemingly uninteresting practices of women’s life writing.
Using the existing findings in the area of gender studies as a starting point, during the conference we will give the floor to researchers who will present other possibilities for reading women’s personal writings, and reveal how we can access what often remains hidden under the surface of the texts which require a critical, contextualized reading. Together, we will discuss the interpretations that facilitate finding the seeds of rebellion and social revolution, while seemingly adhering to patriarchal norms (including formal and literary conventions).
On the first day the conference, we will focus on novel, critical approaches to reading journals, letters, memoirs, and autobiographies written by women. We will discuss what survival strategies were reflected in women’s life writing, what this writing offered to its authors, what purposes it served, and how it influenced the next generations of its female readers.
On the second day the conference, we will investigate women’s biographic writing. How can archives be used to write biographies of 19th century women? What are the most interesting
projects in this area, and what outcomes have they produced so far? What challenges are to be expected in this type of work?
On the third day the conference, we will look at the possibilities that the instruments of digital humanities offer in archiving and digitally editing women’s life writing. Can digital archives and databases restore the memory of the women that have been forgotten, or is the opposite true – are they just a digital reinforcement of the traditional divisions and power (im)balances? We will discuss the most exciting projects, the new research tools, and the opportunities they offer.
During the conference key-note lectures will be delivered by such researchers as, Prof. Sidonie Smith and Prof. Julia Watson, authors and editors of the groundbreaking book entitled “De/Colonizing the Subject: The Politics of Gender in Women’s Autobiography” , Prof. Cynthia Huff, author of many articles focused on women’s diaries and author of descriptive bibliographies of nineteenth-century women’s diaries, Prof. Andrea Pető, author of a biography of Júlia Rajk and author of books on women in Hungarian politics between 1945- 1951 and the female perpetrators in Hungary during World War II. The Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson lecture will be followed by a seminar devoted to their new book of essays, which will be published in early 2017.
The conference is organized by the team behind the Women’s Archive, a division of the Institute of Literary Research, Polish Academy of Sciences (www.ibl.waw.pl) now engaged in a long-term project The Women’s Archive: writing (Archiwum kobiet: piszące). Co- organizers are the Digital Humanities Laboratory, University of Warsaw (www.lach.edu.pl) and the Institute of Slavic Studies, Polish Academy of Sciences (www.ispan.waw.pl).
The Conference “Convention and revolution. Life writing by women in the 1800s and 1900s: archives, critiques and methods” will take place at Staszic Palace in Warsaw, Poland November 27-December 1, 2017.
Conference fee for regular participants: 400 PLN/100 EUR
Conference fee for young scholars and PhD students: 200 PLN/50 EUR
Paper subissions please send till April 30, 2017 on email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Literary Encyclopedia is seeking articles in the field of Post-1945 Women’s Writing. Please see the full CFP for details:
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LITERARY AND CULTURAL CONTEXT ARTICLES
- Cassava Republic
- Uwem Akpan
- Elechi Amadi Ayi Kwei Armah
- Sefi Atta
- Kofi Awoonor
- Doreen Baingana
- Igoni Barrett
- Brian Chikwava
- Achmat Dangor
- Amma Darko
- Sello Duiker
- Cyprian Ekwensi
- Akachi Ezeigbo
- Aminatta Forna
- Damon Galgut
- Goretti Kyomuhendo
- Jowhor Ile
- Kojo Laing
- Okey Ndibe
- Mũkoma wa Ngũgĩ
- Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor
- Tayeb Salih
- Taiye Selasi
- Lola Shoneyin
- Chika Unigwe
- Noo Saro-Wiwa
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Ayi Kwei Armah
- Beautyful Ones Are not Yet Born (1968)
- Fragments (1971)
- The Last Harmattan of Alusine Dunbar
- Sacred River
- The Memory of Love
- Efuru (1966)
- Idu (1970)
- Never Again (1975)
- One Is Enough (1981)
- Women are Different (1986) Short stories/poems collections:
- This Is Lagos and Other Stories (1971)
- Cassava Song and Rice Song (1986)
- Wives at War and Other Stories (1980)
- The Promised Land: a novel (1966)
Short story collections:
- Land Without Thunder (1968)
- The Other Woman: selected short stories (1976)
- Palm-Wine Drinkard (1952)
- Why Don’t You Carve Other Animals (short stories) (1992)
- Nehanda (1993)
- Without a Name (1994)
- Under the Tongue (1997)
- Butterfly Burning (2000)
- The Stone Virgins (2002)