Women Writing Space: Representations of Gender and Space in post-1850 British Women’s Writing

Saturday 7th March 2009 (booking not yet open)
Warwick University

In the second half of the 20th century space has become a reference point of cultural debates. Feminist critics have been particularly receptive to the new findings in this field, and set out to explore the specificity of the relationship between gendered subjects and the spaces they inhabit.
This conference invites papers from a range of disciplines, reflecting the scope of contemporary feminist interest in spatial configurations. Whilst the theoretical scope of the conference is broad, the central issue of “how British women writers represent space” will remain the focus of the day, considering questions such as, how do women writers construct literary space? What types of spaces/places are represented in works by women? How are received notions of space/place interpreted, accepted, or contested? How do we theorise the textual spaces in women’s writing?
We welcome papers covering British women’s writing over a period ranging from the mid-19th century to the present. This choice conveys our intuition that the contemporary interest in space may be traced back to the Victorian age, when industrialization, and the rapid changes in landscape and workplace it involved, considerably developed the writers’ spatial awareness. Without losing sense of the specificity of the historical periods involved, this conference will therefore provide the site for a productive comparative perspective.

Papers will be focused around themes such as: definitions of the ‘public sphere’ and their subversions; enclosed places/spaces of confinement; “Woman and the City”; feminist dystopias/utopias; bodies in space/sexuality and space; borders and boundaries, liminality; theorising textual spaces through women’s writing; the (in)visibility of women’s position on social/cultural/ethnic maps.

CONFIRMED SPEAKERS

Dr. Deborah Parsons (University of Birmingham)
Professor Linda McDowell (St John’s College, Oxford)
(University of London)

We welcome papers covering British women’s writing over a period ranging from the mid-19th century to the present. Topics may include, but are not limited to:

 the theory of “separate spheres” and its cultural/literary contestations;
 enclosed places, spaces of confinement;
 “Woman and the City”: the female flâneur;
 feminist dystopias/utopias;
 bodies in space/sexuality and space;
 borders and boundaries, liminality;
 theorising textual spaces through women’s writing;
 the (in)visibility of women’s position on social/cultural/ethnic maps.

Please send a 300-word proposal for 20-minute papers by 30th October 2008 to the conference organisers, Arina Lungu and Charlotte Mathieson, at:

Arina Lungu
A-N.Lungu@warwick.ac.uk
or
Charlotte Mathieson
c.e.mathieson@warwick.ac.uk

Further enquiries regarding the conference may also be directed to the organisers at these addresses.