International Conference "Convention and Revolution. Life writing by women in the 1800s and 1900s: archives, critiques and methods"
Organizers: Institute of Literary Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Digital Humanities Laboratory of the University of Warsaw, Institute of Slavic Studies of the Polish Academy of Sciences
Long hours in the archives. Raise your hand if you have never yawned over letters of journals written by women of the centuries past. (No hands go up.) The thoughts creep in: this is so boring, so conventional, so predictable – and there’s another pile of pages to read…Fighting sleep, we still entertain hopes of revolutionary finds, fantastic rebel women, unknown facts about those who gained fame, controversies hidden among the yellowing pages. Yet in adopting this attitude, we are missing out on a far greater point. The very gesture of writing, when made by a woman, constitutes rebellion, and the conventionality of the text should not obscure this fact. Anachronism is the greatest power of any revolution. Many women, locked (quite literally) in their homes, using a narrative that mirrored what they had learnt, dreamt of freedom for themselves and others, whether that were aware of it or not. When they sat down to write, they created a moment just for themselves, and in doing so, they carved out a space of their own freedom – small at first, but gradually expanding – where they created themselves. They wrote themselves. With time, they became the subject of writing by other women, their biographers. Discovering, documenting and researching this chain of women’s lives suddenly no longer seems boring.
The international conference, scheduled to take place over three days, will focus on discussing the latest methods of working with women’s personal documents, biographies and letters written on their basis. We are interested in strategies developed in contemporary historiography and literature studies, in particular interdisciplinary women’s, gender and queer studies. We also have a strong interest in the experiences of researchers of herstory, oral history, and life writing. As for historical periods, we are interested mainly in the 1800s and the 1900s up to World War II. However, the true chronology will emerge out of the documents themselves. We have decided to focus on journals, letters, diaries and autobiographies of women in that period because it is, in our opinion, unique: this is when among Western elites the discourse of women’s emancipation was articulated and started gaining popularity. Most women at the time responded with great reserve and even hostility, choosing instead to support the traditional understanding of gender roles.
Personal documents written by women in the 19th century are an excellent reflection of the ambivalence of their authors towards emancipation. Since the 1980s, many scholarly papers have been written to demonstrate that these texts, while ostensibly fitting with the conventions of gender representation, in fact undermine the traditional gender roles. Submission and its subversion, conservative attitudes and emancipation (if not overt, then expressed through a variety of strategies to promote empowerment and women’s agency) – they meet, often in surprising ways, in these conventionalized, seemingly uninteresting practices of women’s life writing.
Using the existing findings in the area of gender studies as a starting point, during the conference we will give the floor to researchers who will present other possibilities for reading women’s personal writings, and reveal how we can access what often remains hidden under the surface of the texts which require a critical, contextualized reading. Together, we will discuss the interpretations that facilitate finding the seeds of rebellion and social revolution, while seemingly adhering to patriarchal norms (including formal and literary conventions).
On the first day the conference, we will focus on novel, critical approaches to reading journals, letters, memoirs, and autobiographies written by women. We will discuss what survival strategies were reflected in women’s life writing, what this writing offered to its authors, what purposes it served, and how it influenced the next generations of its female readers.
On the second day the conference, we will investigate women’s biographic writing. How can archives be used to write biographies of 19th century women? What are the most interesting projects in this area, and what outcomes have they produced so far? What challenges are to be expected in this type of work? On the third day the conference, we will look at the possibilities that the instruments of digital humanities offer in archiving and digitally editing women’s life writing. Can digital archives and databases restore the memory of the women that have been forgotten, or is the opposite true – are they just a digital reinforcement of the traditional divisions and power (im)balances? We will discuss the most exciting projects, the new research tools, and the opportunities they offer.
During the conference key-note lectures will be delivered by such researchers as, Prof. Sidonie Smith and Prof. Julia Watson, authors and editors of the groundbreaking book entitled “De/Colonizing the Subject: The Politics of Gender in Women’s Autobiography” , Prof. Cynthia Huff, author of many articles focused on women’s diaries and author of descriptive bibliographies of nineteenth-century women’s diaries, Prof. Andrea Pető, author of a biography of Júlia Rajk and author of books on women in Hungarian politics between 1945-1951 and the female perpetrators in Hungary during World War II. The Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson lecture will be followed by a seminar devoted to their new book of essays, which will be published in early 2017.
The conference is organized by the team behind the Women’s Archive, a division of the Institute of Literary Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences now engaged in a long-term project The Women’s Archive: writing (Archiwum kobiet: piszące). Co-organizers are the Digital Humanities Laboratory of the University of Warsaw and the Institute of Slavic Studies of the Polish Academy of Sciences.
The Conference “Convention and revolution. Life writing by women in the 1800s and 1900s: archives, critiques and methods” will take place at Staszic Palace in Warsaw, Poland November 27-December 1, 2017.
- for regular participants: 400 PLN/100 EUR
- for young scholars and PhD students: 200 PLN/50 EUR
Paper submissions please send till April 30, 2017 on email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Convention and Revolution: Life writing by women in the 1800s and 1900s: archives, critiques and methods
PROGRAMME November 29th-December 1st, 2017 November 29th, 2017 (Wednesday) Room 144 9.15-9.45 REGISTRATON 9.45-10.00 OPENING & WELCOME Mikołaj Sokołowski (Head of the Institute of Literary Research, PAS) 10.00-11.30 KEYNOTE LECTURE Philippe Lejeune, The personal journal of Émilie Serpin (1863-1881) Chair: Anna Nasiłowska, Mikołaj Sokołowski 11.30-11.45 COFFEE BREAK 11.45-12.45 Monika Rudaś-Grodzka, Katarzyna Nadana-Sokołowska, Ewa Serafin-Prusator, Emilia Kolinko, Marta Taperek, Project: The Women’s Archive: Writing Chair: Anna Nasiłowska 12.45-13.15 COFFEE BREAK 13.15-15.15 PANEL I Chair: Dobrochna Kałwa Marta Taperek, How Many Hands Has Been Involved in Making This Manuscript? The Confession of an Archivist Lucyna Marzec, In Private Archives Svetlana Tomic, “Inferior” Researchers of the “Marginal” Subject Grace Pundyk, Reading the Invisible: Letters between the Living and the Dead 16.30-18.00 PANEL II Chair: Katarzyna Stańczak-Wiślicz Anna Pekaniec, Strategies of Writing a Letters/Strategies of Creating Identity in Letters Written by Eliza Krasińska née Branicka Maria Berkan-Jabłońska, Portrait and Self-Portrait of a Woman on the Basis of the Printed and Handwritten Literary Output of Sabina Grzegorzewska née Gostkowska Tiina Kinnunen, Feminist Biographies as Sources for a Feminist Biography: Methods of Reading Biographies as Political Texts Grażyna Kubica, Personal Ethnographic Writing of Polish Women-Authors 19.00 GALA DINNER November 30th, 2017 (Thursday) 9.30-10.30 (Room 144) KEYNOTE LECTURE Cynthia Huff, Mind the Gaps: Victorian Women Writing Subversion into the Archive Chair: Lucyna Marzec, Katarzyna Nadana-Sokołowska 10.30-10.45 COFFEE BREAK 10.45-12.45 PANEL III (Room 132) Chair: Lucyna Marzec Edyta Pętkowska, Maria and Mary – from Literature to Parallel Biographies Magdalena Ożarska, Mary Shelley’s and Claire Clairmont’s Self-Writing about Reading Karolina Krasuska, Mina Loy and the Function of the Autobiographical PANEL IV (Room 144) Chair: Anna Michalska Anne Y. Brinton, The Missionary’s Wife: Martha Foster Crawford and the Politics of Rebellion Natalia Voloshkova, Aspiring to Freedom: Mary Hamilton’s Life Writing at the Crossroads of the Two Centuries Pedro Urbano, The Forgotten Journals of D. Maria Constança da Câmara, Marchioness of Fronteira Zsuzsa Török, Scribal Publication: A Nineteenth Century Alternative. The Diaries of Baroness Jozefa Wesselényi 12.45-13.15 COFFEE BREAK 13.15- 15.00 (Room 144) KEYNOTE LECTURE Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson, The Archives of Those Who Write Themselves: What and Where Are the Issues? Chair: Natalia Judzińska, Anna Nasiłowska 17.00-19.00 PANEL V (Room 132) Chair: Anna Nasiłowska Anna Dżabagina, The Mourning Diaries: Hanna Nałkowska’s Journal from 1942 to 1945 in the Light of Zofia Nałkowska’s Literary Wartime Diaries Julia Lewandowska, Passions of the Soul: Mystic Experience in the Early Modern Nun´s Spiritual Autobiographies as Dissident Languages Ewa Krzywaźnia-Bachryj, Faces of Disagreement. Women towards their Submission and Males Domination in the Light of Selected Memoirs PANEL VI (Room 144) Chair: Jolanta Żyndul Samira Saramo, From “Iron Women” to Ironing Women: Reading the Extraordinary and the Everyday in Finnish Immigrant Women’s Life Writing Katarzyna Czerwonogóra, Between Europe and Palestine: Women’s Autobiographies as Sources for Writing a New History of Zionism Alexis Peri, Friendship amidst Cold War: Soviet and American Pen Pals Anna Frączek, Letters of Galician Rural Women to the Editors of the “Piast” during the First World War December 1st, 2017 (Friday) 9.30- 11.00 (Room 144) Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson, Workshop: The Archives of Those Who Write Themselves: What and Where Are They? 11.00-11.15 COFFEE BREAK 11.15- 12.15 KEYNOTE LECTURE (Room 144) Andrea Pető, Life Story of Julia Rajk Revisited: Afterlife of a Biography Chair: Katarzyna Stańczak-Wiślicz, Marta Taperek 12.15-12.45 COFFEE BREAK 12.45-14.15 PANEL VII (Room 144) Chair: Karolina Krasuska Andrea Feldman, Ivana Brlić Mažuranić: Trauma and Duties of a Fairy Tale Writer Khola Waheed, A Tale of Two Novels. A Comparative Study of Emma’ and My Feudal Lord Natalia Jakubova, Constructions of Parenthood in the Autobiographical Writings of Irena Solska (1875-1958) PANEL VIII (Room 132) Chair: Barbara Klich-Kluczewska Natalie Cornett, The Secret World of Female Letters: The Case of Narcyza Żmichowska and the Enthusiasts of Nineteenth-Century Poland Katarzyna Nadana-Sokołowska, Adela Kieniewiczowa’s Diary’s Keeping – Functions of the Practice Marzena Boniecka, The Room of Aniela Gruszecka 14.15-14.45 COFFEE BREAK 14.45-16.15 PANEL IX (Room 144) Chair: Joanna Partyka Siobhan Hearne, Prostitutes as Petitioners: Correspondence between Registered Women and the Authorities in Late Imperial Russia Tanya Chebotarev, Bridging the Gap: Iraida Barry in Istanbul (1920s-1950s) Marijana Kardum, Vinka Bulić’s Diary 1929-1934: Women’s Chronicle of the Royal Dictatorship 16.15-16.30 CONFERENCE RECAP CONFERENCE VENUE: Staszic Palace, Institute of Literary Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, 72 Nowy Świat Street
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