The intellectual impulse for the fifth feminist course in the seminar on Feminisms in transnational perspective (Dubrovnik, 23–27 May, 2011) comes from Hannah Arendt’s statement that “lives without words and action are dead for the world”. Extensive scholarship has established links between gender and genre in women’s (auto)biographical discourses, while feminist theorizing has offered political and activist perspectives on the wider socio-cultural frame of positing, producing, communicating, and manipulating women’s self-representations. The exploration of autobiographical ethics and “first-person plural subjectivities” involved in national identity formation in turbulent times and politically charged contexts has been particularly fruitful. Now we may ask, how do the contexts and communitarian vocabularies of selfhood intervene in pervasive neoliberal structures of power/knowledge and capitalist reification in the transnational negotiation of feminisms?
A challenge for feminist theory and practice is how to find forms to enunciate the dignified, empowered and desire-driven, but also forbidden, shocking, and traumatized women’s voices demanding truth and justice? On the one hand, the “testimonial turn” in the study of women’s life writing has shifted our focus to the forces that contribute to the interplay of emancipation and liberation with subordination that expose the trauma to which a witness may speak or write in public. Testimonies, although contested and often manipulated by persons and situations, importantly contribute to subverting essentialized discourses of identity and prejudices of (meta)cultural representation in the validation of victimized communities. On the other hand, emergent practices of women’s self-authoring through community art, social forums, public hearings, artistic performances, and new media signal creative prospects for the future.
Participants are invited to consider the following issues and dilemmas relevant to our focus:
- How have poststructuralist, postcolonial and feminist theorizings of the self, subjectivity and voice changed women’s self-representations?
- How have feminist theories focused on gender and genre in traditionally marginalized modes of writing intervened in the formation of national literary canons?
- How, in media-saturated environments, is the telling of trauma narratives enabled or undermined?
- In what ways can women’s testimonies and international public hearings for women mobilize feminist activism, empathy, and compassion across borders?
- What is the political and educational impact of compassionate reading and listening to women’s coming-out stories, confessions and testimonies from the “rest of the world”?
- How is feminist art a stimulus to a poetics and ethics of women’s self-expression and self-authoring?
- What practices support the recognition of and respect for other/ness in multi-lingual, nomadic, and experimental projects of women’s self-presentation?
- To what extent (if at all) can feminist projects of self-authoring be considered acts of self- and collective decolonization of mind and body?
Participants are invited to propose theoretical and/or empirical projects that address and explore various modes of women’s self-representation and self-authorship emerging from new social movements, women’s political initiatives, theorizing of radical consciousness and activism, as well as experimental forms of self-expression in the traditional fine arts, literature, film, theatre and dance.
IUC courses are conducted at the postgraduate level. All interested postgraduate students may apply to participate, although the course targets young scholars and postgraduate students with a defined interest in women’s studies, transnational studies, postcolonialism, or anthropology. The course will be limited to 25 participants (15 students), in order to provide sufficient space for discussion, seminar work and student presentations. Participants must seek funding from their own institutions for the costs of travel, lodging and meals. Limited financial support is available for participants from Central and Eastern Europe. The IUC requires the payment of 40 EUR for the course fee. The working language of the course is English.
Please submit a proposal consisting of a short narrative describing your interest in the topic and your C.V. Put all current contact information at the top of your C.V. Send submissions by e-mail to email@example.com. Use the subject: IUC Dubrovnik 2011. The proposal deadline is January 20, 2011.