Seminar Series: Studies in Contemporary Women’s Writing

Effe smallA new seminar series associated with the Peter Lang book series Studies in Contemporary Women’s Writing will be held in 2013 at the

Centre for the Study of Contemporary Women’s Writing at the

University of London School of Advanced Study

New cross-cultural/comparative seminar series on Wednesday afternoons at Senate House, University of London, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

Confirmed dates for 2013 are below. All welcome. No charge. For further details about any of the dates/events, please contact:



1 May 2013, 2-5pm: War Stories: Reading the Postcolonial Text
Convenor: Caroline E. Kelley (Paris)

Caroline E. Kelley’s book Women Writing War: Reading the Discursive Life-writing of the Moudjahidate in the Context of the Algerian Revolution (1954–1962) and its Aftermath is forthcoming with Peter Lang in 2013.

Wednesday 22 May 2013, 2-5.30pm: Women’s Writing in the 21st Century
Convenors: Marie Carriere (Alberta & IGRS/CCWW Visiting Fellow) and Gill Rye (IGRS)

This cross-cultural seminar will gather scholars working on current tendencies, turns, and manisfestations in contemporary women’s writings in the West. Women’s literary, artistic, and cultural practices in the 21c will be examined at the cusp of blended genres, various theoretical perspectives, and multiple critical methodologies. One focal point of these papers will be the relationship of current writings by women to feminism itself: second-, third-, fourth-wave, post- or meta- feminism. They will broach the representation of the living gendered subject; the subject’s confrontation of a post-9/11 world; intimacy and critical affect; as well as the ethics and political agency of the writing ‘I’.

Marie Carriere (Alberta and IGRS/CCWW Visiting Fellow): ‘Metafeminism and Quebec Women’s Writing in the 21c’
Maite Snauwaert (Alberta): ‘Critical Affect and Metafeminism in Jane Sautiere’s Late Style’
Wissia Fiorucci (Kent): ‘One, No One or One Hundred Thousand? Questions of Identity and Gender in the Work of Contemporary Italian Women Writers’
Margaret Littler (Manchester): ‘Women’s Writing in a Quantum Age: New Materialism and the Poetry of Barbara Köhler’

A link to the abstracts will be on the event web page shortly.

The edited volume Experiment and Experience: Women’s Writing in France 2000-2010 by Gill Rye with Amaleena Damle is forthcoming with Peter Lang in 2013.

Wednesday 26 June 2013, 2-5.30 pm: The Aesthetics of Disgust: Revolting Bodies and Other Gruesome Things in post-1990 Women’s Writing
Convenor: Katie Jones (Nottingham)

Disgust is a strong immediate visceral reaction. Classed among the universal human emotions, it can feel like an obvious or even a natural response to physical stimuli such as putrefaction or bodily waste products. However, a closer look at the cultural construction of disgust and its elicitors reveals a much deeper complexity: while the disgust reaction itself may be intrinsic to humans, the cultural meanings ascribed to particular objects, bodies or behaviours play a significant role in whether or not they are experienced as disgusting. This interplay between bodies and ideas makes the disgusting a particularly powerful source of metaphor in literature, but the often extreme nature of the disgust response means it is hard to control. Disgust is also problematic for feminist analysis, due to a misogynistic tradition in which the female body has often been coded as disgusting. While excrement and corpses are key elicitors of disgust, images of pregnancy, menstruation and excessive fleshy femaleness are disproportionately present in cultural representations of the disgusting, and, according to Winfried Menninghaus (1999), the body of the old woman is the ultimate object of disgust, bringing together key cultural anxieties about ageing, sex and death in one horrifying image.

Since the late 1990s, there has been a marked increase in theoretical interest in disgust in a range of fields of enquiry. As Carolyn Korsmeyer (2011) points out, this has coincided with an increase in the production of artworks that represent disgust as their main focus, or which set out to provoke disgust in their audience. This symposium seeks to take advantage of this disgusting moment in aesthetic representation and theory to develop a new approach to reading contemporary women’s writing. Bringing together analyses of literature in French, German and [Spanish, Portuguese Italian], the papers will consider the various ways in which women represent, manipulate and engage with disgusting themes and the experience of disgust. The concluding discussion will evaluate the possibilities and limitations of disgust for a nuanced understanding of women’s self-representation in a contemporary context and across cultures.
Confirmed speakers: Katie Jones (Nottingham): ‘Towards a feminist aesthetics of disgust? Amélie Nothomb, Marie Darrieussecq, Charlotte Roche’
Elizabeth Boa (Nottingham): ‘Lust or Digust? The Blurring of Boundaries in Karen Duve’s _Regenroman_’

Abstracts, together with a call for papers for further contributions, will appear shortly on the event’s web page.

Katie Jones’s book Representing Repulsion: The Aesthetics of Disgust in Contemporary Women’s Writing in French and German is forthcoming with Peter Lang in 2013.


Wednesday 11 December 2013, 2-5 pm: Women Leaders in Contemporary European Women’s Writing
Convenor: Elizabeth Sercombe

Call for Papers (deadline 31 March 2013)
Despite the increasingly important role played by women leaders in positions of power across Europe, from the high-profile Christine Lagarde and Angela Merkel to the many managers in professional roles in the public and private sector, examples of such women in contemporary women’s writing are few and far between. Yet fiction provides a rich imaginative space for the exploration of the challenges, questions and vision involved in women’s experience of leadership. Elaine Showalter’s observation that ‘feminism has been very uncomfortable with leadership. It has not been a goal of feminism to develop leaders’ (Gillis and Munford, ‘Interview with Elaine Showalter’, Third Wave Feminism, 2003) still holds true. Yet in the absence of maps and models for wholehearted and successful leadership, women are at risk of trying to perpetuate inner working models that inhibit, rather than enable.
We would like to invite papers for a special seminar on women leaders in contemporary European women’s writing which tackle some of these issues. Each paper should foreground a specific fictional woman leader. Topics may include: Women leaders as role models, mentors and apprentices; Women leaders as pioneers; How the woman leader negotiates and shapes existing power structures; Navigating leadership and motherhood; Dealing with the (inner) glass ceiling; Cross-cultural leadership. Papers should be 20 minutes long, with ten minutes being allowed for questions. Please send abstracts or queries to no later than the 31st March.
This workshop will be convened by Dr Elizabeth Sercombe. Elizabeth gained her Phd from the University of Southampton in 2009 with a thesis entitled ‘Involutions, Evolutions: Women’s Individuation in the Works of Pierrette Fleutiaux’. Elizabeth is also the Director of evolute, a small yet potent leadership development consultancy working with individuals and organisations across Europe.  Her first book, Pierrette Fleutiaux’s Explorations of Womanhood is due to be published with Peter Lang in 2014.

Image (c) Eddi Milkovitsch.


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