Women Situated in Political Conflict: Utopia or Dystopia?
SAMLA: Graduate Students’ Forum in English
November 4-6, 2016 Jacksonville, FL
In a 2008 interview, a former female IRA volunteer of the Northern Irish Troubles explained, “Sometimes you wonder if your life had to be so different…you only resort to that type of method [violence] when you’ve nothing else, when your back’s against the wall. War is not nice; war is a bad thing and nobody unless they really have to should really go there…war’s hell.” Violent political conflict under any circumstance is less than utopic, yet for many women it is the very catalyst that allows them to move away from traditional gender roles. What does examining women in fictional works where political conflict is the backdrop tell us about cultural notions of especially gender, but also of race, class, sexuality, and religion? For example, consider the Catholic mother in Mary Costello’s novel Titanic Town, who leaves the confines of the domestic space to advocate for peace during the Northern Irish Troubles. In contrast, contemplate Anne Devlin’s drama Ourselves Alone, where even the woman who is an IRA volunteer has no agency because of the dominating male presences in her life. Papers are certainly not limited to the Conflict in Northern Ireland. Submissions could also consider works featuring women who are currently fighting in combat, or examine works centered on female pilots during WWII, for instance. Proposals then should examine works (novels, graphic novels, plays, or films) centering on women moving within any political conflict, and consider if their reality as “gender-benders” creates a utopia or dystopia. Please send abstracts (250-300 words) and any a/v needs to Kelly Batchelder at firstname.lastname@example.org by May 30, 2016.
I am a third year English PhD student at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, IL. My contact information is email@example.com or by phone at 706-302-5008.