>> Fast Forward: Women’s Writing in the 21st Century
>> Keynote: Anna Ball (Nottingham Trent University): https://www.ntu.ac.uk/staff-profiles/arts-humanities/anna-ball
>> Workshop & Reading: Emily Blewitt (Poet): https://emilyblewitt.wordpress.com
“The past is always tense, the future perfect.“ (Zadie Smith)
Zadie Smith’s debut novel White Teeth was published in the January of 2000 and marked the beginning of a new millennium of women’s writing. Considering that this and other texts released around the turn of the century are soon to be the same age as current undergraduates, it seems timely to move on from well-worn discussions of literature produced in the 1970s onwards and focus on women’s writing in the twenty first century.
The contemporary, as a liminal temporal space, marks the transition between past and future and as such is not only notoriously hard to frame but its fluid and ephemeral nature continues to present a challenge in literary studies and beyond. Contemporary literature, in many ways simultaneously ‘with the time’ and then quickly outdated, presents a curious and exciting paradox to think through questions of literary form, the literary market place, the role of authors as public intellectuals and contemporary readers. The need to focus on the present and contemporary state of women’s literature seems particularly poignant in a post-Brexit and Trump era in which laws and ideas surrounding the future state of gender, race, and class politics are ever more obscure and uncertain.
Join us on the 8th and 9th September 2017 as we seek to position the most recent work (post 2000) of established authors alongside the field’s newer voices in order to facilitate a conversation about the present state – and possible futures – of women’s writing.
Possible conference themes:
- the resurgence of women’s confessional writing
- the recent rise in popularity of erotic and romantic fiction
- the emergence of genres such as autofiction and autotheory in women’s writing
- writing at the intersection of creative and critical/writing across genres
- writers as public intellectuals and agents of change
- new directions in writing by canonised authors
Please send abstracts of 250 words and a short bionote to firstname.lastname@example.org until 30th June, 2017.
(For information on past events, please see our archive)
Representations of Romantic Relationships and the Romance Genre in Contemporary Women’s Writing
Saturday 11th June 2016, Sheffield Hallam University
‘…It would be at best grossly incurious and at worst sadly limited for literary critics to ignore a genre that millions and millions of women read voraciously’ (Pornography for Women is Different, Ann Snitow, 1979)
Almost forty years have passed since Snitow’s ardent defence of the importance of recognising and examining the romance genre, however critical consideration of the romance remains limited. Some have suggested that this could be a result of a snobbery associated with romantic fiction, or perhaps even more startlingly due to a general lack of interest in the literature women write and read (Light , Philips  and Radway ). Critic Emily S. Davis states ‘Romance…does not get much love in critical circles…it is no coincidence that the areas most frequently dismissed as inconsequential…are precisely those identified with disempowered groups such as women and queers.’
Although there remains an overall absence of criticism the importance of women writers’ relationship with the romance and the effect it has on women readers has been acknowledged, particularly in relation to feminism. In ‘‘Returning to Manderley’ – Romance Fiction, Female Sexuality and Class’ Alison Light acknowledges that romances are ‘…often seen as coercive and stereotyping narratives which invite the reader to identify with a passive heroine who only finds true happiness in submitting to a masterful male.’ In contrast the most well-known and acclaimed critic on the genre, Janice A. Radway, stressed ‘Romance is being changed and struggled over by the women who write them.’ Indeed, contemporary women writers from the Booker Prize winning Margaret Atwood to the self-proclaimed ‘chick-lit’ writer Sophie Kinsella have written novels which use the romance genre and/or focus on romantic relationships and could be seen to be part of a re-writing of the genre.
Given the significant links between the romance, women writers and women readers, conversation around the presence of the genre in contemporary fiction is crucial. This symposium seeks to encourage this discussion.
Topics may include yet are not limited to the thematic list below:
The presence of romantic relationships and the use of the romance genre in contemporary women’s writing
The relationship between the romance genre and feminism
The perception of romance as a low-brow genre, and the extent to which this perception offers critical and intellectual insights into debates about how we define women’s writing and cultural contribution
The future of the romance genre within contemporary women’s literature
A 250-word abstract for 20-minute papers including a brief bionote, should be submitted to email@example.com by Friday 8th April 2016.