Women in Motion: An Interdisciplinary Conference
Mount Allison University
Sackville, New Brunswick, CANADA
May 23-25, 2003
Author of Flint and Feather: The Life and Times of E. Pauline Johnson,
Sisters in the Wilderness: The Lives of Susanna Moodie and Catherine Parr
Département d^Òétudes littéraires, Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)
Author of La Voyageuse et la prisonnière: Gabrielle Roy et la question des
Cultural Studies, Sheffield Hallam University, UK
Author of Discourses of Difference: Women's Travel Writing and Colonialism,
Co-Editor of Fanny Parks: Wanderings of a Pilgrim in Search of the Picturesque
To be included in the program, you are invited to submit an abstract
in French or in English (300-500 words) no later than November 30, 2002.
Hard copies of
International travel and urban 'flânerie', and in certain traditions, all
forms of geographic movement, have long been represented as 'uniquely
masculine privilege(s) [or burden(s)]' (Jacqui Smyth 1995). One need only
consider the nineteenth-century trope of woman as (stationary) flower and
man as (mobile) bee, or the classical pairing of Ulysses and Penelope, to
realize that masculine models of movement have, in the past, opposed
feminine models of stasis. There are significant exceptions to such models
of feminine immobility, as represented, for example, by the female
pilgrim, the female migrant, the woman accompanying her traveling husband,
father or son and the abandoned or "fallen" woman.
The Mount Allison University faculties of Arts and Social Sciences invite
participation in an interdisciplinary conference investigating cultural
representation of women in motion and the material outcomes of models of
feminine mobility and immobility.
We encourage submission of papers that deal with the following issues and
What are the notable exceptions to the literary or cultural conventions of
female immobility through the centuries and across cultures?
How do representations of mobile women differ from those of more stationary
women? From those of mobile men?
What issues, questions or meanings are evoked when women move in contexts
in which movement is understood to be 'a uniquely masculine privilege [or
Are certain kinds of spaces appropriated by women in motion?
What connections persist between particular literary or cultural representations of mobile or immobile women and historical and
contemporary barriers to women's mobility?
Can we detect any change in the representation of women in discussions of
pilgrimage, exile, migrancy/migration and cosmopolitanism?
A selection of guiding quotes:
"Throughout the 18th-Century, European society remains extremely wary of
those who wander, and in particular, of women who wander. Wandering is
sanctioned as vagrancy a crime punishable by flogging. If prostitution is
not at that time a crime in itself, it is likened to vagrancy. That is to
say how much feminine movement is deemed socially and morally suspect. For
an honest woman remains in the home (of the father or husband). If
absolutely necessary, she may enter into the home of the person to whom the
father delegates his authority." --Françoise du Sorbier (1991) on Daniel
Defoe's wandering heroines (our translation).
"In 19th-Century Europe, feminine 'flânerie' in public spaces is seen as
being "very contrary to the true nature of women women are naturally
unadventurous and conservative" Bénédicte Monicat (1996) on the
perception of women in public spaces (our translation).
"In part the notion of a flâneuse is impossible precisely because of the
one-way-ness and the directionality of the gaze. Flâneurs observed others;
they were not observed themselves. And for reasons which link together the
debate on perspective and spatial organization of painting, and most
women's exclusion from the public sphere, the modern gaze belonged
(belongs?) to men". - Doreen Massey (1994) discussing Janet Wolff's
"[U]nless economical necessity forces [the woman subject] to leave the home
on a daily basis, she is likely to be restrained in her mobility -- a
transcultural, class- and gender-specific practice that for centuries has
not only made travelling quasi impossible for women, but has also compelled
every 'travelling' female creature to become a stranger to her own family,
society and gender." (Trinh T. Minh-ha, "Other than myself/ my other self",
in _Travellers' tales: narratives of home and displacement_, ed. by George
Robertson et al., Routledge, 1994.)
Mount Allison University is located near the Nova Scotia border of New Brunswick, 30 minutes from the Moncton airport and 2 hours from the Halifax airport. Information on accommodation and registration will be available in early 2003. Our conference is scheduled May 23-25, 2003 for the convenience of those who may also wish to attend the Congress of Learned Societies in Halifax, May 28-June 5, 2003.
Proposals in English or in French are invited for papers (20 minutes
reading time) or panels (two or three papers). Proposals (300-500 words)
should be sent by email or paper by November 30, 2002. Email submissions
should be sent within the body of an email letter: NO ATTACHMENTS, PLEASE.
Mail two copies of paper submissions to Dr. Karin Schwerdtner . Send electronic submissions to both of the email addresses below. This conference has already generated significant international interest and paper proposals from countries such as Canada, USA, England, Scotland, France, Italy, Belgium,Turkey and Kenya.
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