MLA 2014, Section: Women in Literature
January 8-11, 2015
Deadline: May 9, 2014
Topic: Gendered Spaces; Gendered Places: Women’s Lives in the City
“Places are not merely discrete, rooted phenomena; they are ever evolving outcomes of social relationships that span and link regional, national, and even global geographies” (Altha J. Cravey and Michael Petit, “A Critical Pedagogy of Place: Learning Through the Body” 108).
In Space, Place and Gender, Doreen Massey rejects the idea that space is fixed and apolitical. Drawing in part on Marxist feminists, she posits instead that “space is constituted through social relations and material social practices” (254). Not only is space constructed through the social for Massey, but the converse is also true: “the social is spatially constructed too, and that makes a difference…in its broadest formulation, society is necessarily constructed spatially, and that fact—the spatial organization of society—makes a difference to how it works” (254). In other words, the spaces we inhabit produce the societies in which we live—all the while the societies in which we live socially construct the spaces we inhabit. This establishes the kind of web of intra-action between humans and others that can be traced through the recent theoretical work of Donna Haraway and new materialist feminists like Karen Barad and Stacy Alaimo. It also holds major implications for thinking about how spaces and places are active in women’s lives and women’s literature.
Using the concept of spaces and places as active participants in the lives of humans, and in accordance with the conference’s theme of “The Lives of Cities,” this panel seeks papers that explore the issues of space and place in women’s literary texts. Possible topics may include, but are not limited to: gendered spaces and/or places, queer spaces, metaphorical spaces, urban autobiography and/or memoir, representations of gender within the space/place of a narrative, globalization and gender, historical representations of urban spaces in women’s literature, issues of performance and performativity in relation to urban space, and place-based approaches to teaching women’s literature.
Please submit 250-word abstracts and a brief 100-word bio to Meg Gregory at firstname.lastname@example.org by May 9, 2014. Chair: Meg Gregory, Illinois State University