Call for papers
Contemporary Experimental Women’s Writing
12th October 2013, University of Manchester, UK
Keynote lecture: Dr. Rachel Carroll (University of Teesside)
Special guest speaker: Ali Smith
The recent, monumental, Routledge Companion to Experimental Literature (2012) aims to cover ‘the history of literary experiment from the beginning of the twentieth century to the present’ yet, according to the narrative it offers, women form only the most marginal part of that ‘history’; just one chapter devotes itself to women’s experimental writing, and the other chapters are dominated by references to male authors. As Ellen G. Friedman asserts, in that lone chapter: ‘For the most part, women experimental writers in the twentieth century were absent from surveys of innovative writing, and they were also absent from studies that focused entirely on women writers’ (Bray et al., 2012: 154). Similarly, recent discussions of literary experiment after postmodernism, of the legacies of modernist literary innovation, of ‘metamodernism’ and ‘altermodernism’ in the wider artistic and cultural realm, and of the new ‘avant-gardes’, primarily concern themselves with male authors such as David Peace, Thomas Pynchon, David Mitchell, J.M. Coetzee, David Foster Wallace, W.G. Sebald and Dave Eggers.
This one-day symposium – under the aegis of the Contemporary Women’s Writing Association – therefore sets out to investigate, analyse and celebrate the more experimental end of the wide spectrum of women’s writing since the 1960s. Like Friedman and Miriam Fuchs’ Breaking the Sequence (1989), the symposium aims to be both ‘archaeological and compensatory’, attending to established and emerging authors alike, and asking what counts as ‘experiment’ within contemporary women’s writing. What are the uses of experiment for women writers? What varieties and what degree of experimentalism can we trace in contemporary women’s writing? And how might an attentiveness to different manifestations of experimentalism broaden and complicate our understanding of ‘women’s writing’ as a (fraught) category?
The organisers invite papers on a range of topics and authors, including, but not limited to:
Please send abstracts of c.300 words and a brief bio to Kaye Mitchell at
firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday 3rd May 2013. Proposals for panels of three interlinked papers are also welcome.
Dr. Kaye Mitchell (University of Manchester)
Dr. Becky Munford (Cardiff University)