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Territory(-ies) and Environment in Women’s Literature

CONFERENCE Femmes Auteures Anglaises et AMéricaines (English and American Women Authors)

Friday 16 and Saturday 17 September 2011

Paris Ouest Nanterre la Défense University

Organizers: Claire Bazin, Alice Braun, Fabienne Moine, Marie-Claude Perrin-Chenour

“TERRITORY(-IES) AND ENVIRONMENT IN WOMEN’S LITERATURE”

Having examined the inscription of the private sphere in women’s literature, FAAAM will now turn its attention to the notions of environment and territory, two aspects of the public sphere that paradoxically contradict and complement each other. The concept of environment, unlike that of territory, is prior to human desire and serves as a broad-based sphere of inclusion. Depending on how it is defined, environment may thus refer not only to the ecosystem as an object of scientific study, but also to nature as a poetic construct of the human imagination, and even to the microcosm, the boundaries of which are only marked out by a feeling of belonging. Territory, on the other hand, requires demarcation and definition by human actors, social, political and intellectual influences, a desire to possess and to name. Territory divides and excludes, though it may also affirm and lay claim to roots and shelter: it both imprisons and emancipates.

Therefore, we will consider how gender is mapped out and how space is divided up in women’s literature. We would, for example, welcome an analysis of the methods used by women authors to attain a position of power vis-à-vis their territories or to control their environment, or an analysis of the extent to which women authors work with their environment. Through various critical approaches (gender-based, ecocritical, ecofeminist, postcolonial, etc.), we will attempt to show how women’s literature constructs gender within its environment or, conversely, how it uses territory to construct gender. The tension inherent in the relationship between woman author and the environment or territory that she deals with or constructs in writing will allow us to challenge essentialist attempts to identify similarities between woman and nature. An analysis of certain texts (novels, poems, essays etc.) produced by women will aim at showing that spatial division is a literary construct resulting from a gender-based perspective in order to account for a specific position regarding the environment (including both the organization and the appropriation of territories).

Possible topics for discussion:

• the construction of space or place

• the symbolic relation to space

• the concept of conquest

• appropriation and reappropriation

• nature, the public sphere, etc.

Paper proposals, which are to be between 200 and 300 words in length and include a short biography, will be considered if received before 15 May 2011.
Proposals are to be sent to: Marie-Claude Perrin-Chenour.

After reviewing the proposals, the organizers will make a joint decision and inform each contributor by June 1st at the latest. After the conference, a selection of papers will be published in our review Textes & Genres.





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