Call for articles for a forthcoming issue of L’Esprit Createur:
Gender and Race: Romantic-Era Women and French Colonial Memory
Edited by Adrianna M. Paliyenko, Colby College
What representations of race emerge from French Romantic women writers’ depictions of the colonial world? This issue proposes to examine women’s literature on slavery as a productive site for the study of the aesthetics and politics of French colonial memory. French Romanticism (1820-1851) neatly overlapped with the abolitionist movement leading to the second and final suppression of slavery in the French colonies in 1848. Hotly debated, the emancipation of blacks seized the cultural imagination in the early nineteenth century, and inspired many literary responses by European writers of both genders. In France, many women contributed to this discourse, although only Mme de Duras, the author of the popular Ourika (1823), is widely discussed today. The pre-Romantic writings on slavery by Olympe de Gouges and Germaine de Staël, for example, and the colonial-themed writing of other Romantic writers—Marceline Desbordes-Valmore, Delphine Gay (Mme de Girardin), Sophie Doin, Charlotte Dard, Anaïs Ségalas, Mélanie Waldor, George Sand, Mme Aline de*** (pseudonym of Madame Letellier), Louise de Lafaye and Mme A. Cashin among them—constitute a rich colonial archive. Literary interest in slavery waned after the 1848 abolition only to resurface in the 1880s, in response to France’s “mission civilisatrice” and colonial expansion under the Third Republic.
Contributors are invited to take as their point of departure the idea that rereading constructions of race entangled with those of gender in the nineteenth century deepens the expansive memory of a colonial world colored by fictions of difference that may still influence us today. By expanding our knowledge of women’s literary response to French colonialism, we may measure the difference gender makes in nineteenth- and twenty-first-century Francophone studies of slavery and the narration of race. The issue will include a cluster of four articles on Desbordes-Valmore’s recently republished novella Sarah (1821) set in the French-speaking Caribbean, and inspired by the author’s 1802 sojourn to the Antilles. The editor welcomes studies on other women’s literary engagement with colonial history that will frame Desbordes-Valmore’s contribution to the slavery canon by providing comparisons between women writing about slavery at particular cultural moments.
Specs: Up to 6000-word essays, in English. Deadline: April 1, 2007.
Please submit electronic attachments (Word preferred) to Editors, L’Esprit Créateur (firstname.lastname@example.org), or initial inquiries to Adrianna Paliyenko (email@example.com).
Adrianna M. Paliyenko
Professor of French
Dept of French and Italian
Waterville, Maine 04901
207-872-3118 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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