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Ergebnisanzeige "M comme mère, M comme Monstre / M for Mother, M for Monster "
RessourcentypCall for Papers
TitelM comme mère, M comme Monstre / M for Mother, M for Monster
BeschreibungM comme mère, M comme Monstre / M for Mother, M for Monster

Media attention appears to suggest that an ever-growing number of women kill their children. As many known cases in Germany, The Netherlands and France show, some women suffocate their newly born babies and, in a gesture of extreme perversion, preserve or hide their bodies. Whatever the motif behind these crimes, their recurrence remain, nonetheless, puzzling; all the more since they occur in contexts where abortion is no longer subject to prosecution and contraceptives should be, in principle, available to all.
Throughout the history of humankind, infanticide, the most incomprehensible of crimes, has both fascinated and disgusted. Medical experts have attempted to explain this complex act of violence with impressive names such as "Münchhausen's syndrome" or the "Unwed mother syndrome". In the domain of letters, at least since Euripides' Medea, infanticide has been a long-standing theme in what used to be called “World Literature.” Strangely as it may seem, from Goethe to Faulkner, passing through Dostoevsky, infanticide, as a literary motif, has for long been the privileged domain of male literary enquiry. Once considered female demons or witches, are these child-murderers still perceived as women against “nature” or has this situation changed? Furthermore, have these changes run parallel to changes in representations of femininity? Approaching infanticide as a theme for critical enquiry makes it possible to engage in a broad interrogation of the relationship between women and criminality and women and maternity as they have been documented, represented and anchored in the social imaginary throughout different periods of human history.
One important issue to bear in mind is that women have, from time immemorial, been undervalued by the judicial machinery. The imaginary surrounding the monstrous mother (the child-murderer, the violent woman, the maker of angels or even the nurse who falls into madness; not to mention Jeanne Weber, who in 1906 was called the “Ogress of the Goutte d’Or”) is in sharp contrast with the idea of a woman who would, by “nature” and instinct, be distant from any form of violence, precisely because she is a life-giver rather than a life-taker. The child-murder, criminal conduct constructed as pertaining to a supposed “feminine nature and role” invokes the fear of a disorderly femininity; one which threatens the established order in the private sphere.
From the 1980s onwards, infanticide began to be explored in a different fashion. Following the feminist postulate that women who commit such acts can only be victims of a patriarchal society, feminist authors engaged in re-writings of Medea’s history. From the 1990s onward, an increasing number of authors and film-makers (Elfriede Jelinek with Lust, Thea Dorn with Die Brut, Renate Dorrestein with Een haart van steen or films like Il y a longtemps que je t'aime directed by Philippe Claudel or Mama by Andrès Mischietti, to name but a few) have broken with political- correctness by calling for an end to traditions representing women through Manichean images (either demons or angels). At the same time, they have overtly demanded the right for their protagonists to be wicked. The works of these artists have rejuvenated debates surrounding women’s agency in infanticides, compelling the question as to whether infanticide can still be considered a criminal act perpetrated by a social victim or is it, rather, an act of freeing the self; of ultimate emancipation?
The artistic factor plays an undeniable role in the way representations of infanticides perpetrated by women have changed. The seeming authenticity of the reported facts tends to create an undeniable media effect which does not only appeal to the gutter press but also very often is given more value than the artistic quality of a given work. Consequently it is necessary to wonder about the other artistic means (literary, plastic, cinematographic etc) used to transmit the account of these monstrous mothers.
After a conference on the subject, this publication aims at proposing multidisciplinary perspectives on these representations of ‘monstrous mothers’ as well as by questions triggered by this social and artistic phenomenon. We mainly look for:
- a gendered point of view on the question : how do these representations proposed by masculine and feminine artists give a different angle on these monstrous mothers?
- A synchronic point of view, concerning the evolution of these representations and of the mothers’ actions; how did these representation vary according to times and contexts? How can one define the ‘monstrous’ in relation to time?
- Case studies in literature, painting, photography or cinema in various cultural and geographical points of views.
- Media studies questioning the reception of these cases throughout the press, or television, Internet, blogs, etc.
- Multidisciplinary perspectives that compare case studies with sociological, political or medical standpoints.

The final articles should be between 20.000 and 30.000 signs (spaces included) long and should be sent on the 1st of February 2014, at the latest. The publication will include articles in French and English.

Articles proposals should include an abstract (2000 signs maximum), a short biography (5 lines) as well as a description of main research/teaching topics. All proposals should be sent to the following address: before December 1st, 2013.

SAGES is the Centre for Multidisciplinary Research in Gender Studies at the Faculty of Philosophy and Literature of the Université libre de Bruxelles. SAGES promotes and encourages cross-cutting and multidisciplinary approaches to gender issues in the following areas: arts, cinema, history, languages and cultures, literature, philosophy, information and communication science. Gender research within the Faculty is driven by the necessity to ponder the articulation between cultural specificities and gender constructions and to enhance our understanding of how a gender perspective becomes embedded within the different disciplines within our Faculty. SAGES believes that new cultural configurations and shifting dynamics affecting relations between the sexes (generated e.g. by postcolonial legacies) have given reflection of gender relations a particular urgency and actuality.
Quelle der BeschreibungInformation des Anbieters
Verknüpfte Ressource
PersonName: Barbara Obst 
Funktion: Maître de Langues - Membre SAGES 
KontaktdatenName/Institution: SAGES - Université Libre de Bruxelles 
Strasse/Postfach: 50 Avenue F. Roosevelt  
Postleitzahl: 1050 
Stadt: Bruxelles 
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