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The female body as scapegoat in The Crucible or The Salem Trials

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The Old Vic Theatre at London is hosting till the 13th of September Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible (1952). As I am working on a chapter on Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter (1850) I am becoming familiar with the New England society in the 17th C, which easily brings to mind the Salem’s trials where some of Hawthorne’s ancestors participated. Thus I felt full of curiosity for Miller’s play, and I really recommend this representation at the Old Vic, it was excellent, a wonderful adaptation with great actors and a very moving acting. The play runs for 3 hours and a half but time flies in such a touching piece of work whose main virtue, I think, is the lack of action and the great dialogues full of feeling and at some points also comical. Hope, anxiety, pity, love or fear are some of the feelings the actors achieved to raise among the public, it is a cathartic piece of work in the Aristotelian sense; behind that, the aesthetics are very well chosen, it is beautiful to see the mise en scène and the whole atmosphere, I wish also to point out that the play has been faithfully adapted, it is not a modern and free adaptation but really settled in the 17th C Massachusetts which helps you to be there.

So, as has been suggested above, The Crucible deals with the Salem witch trials in the Puritan community. To sum up the facts: a group of girl teenagers from the Puritan community go out a night in the woods afterwards one of them is afflicted by some unknown malady, and as it was proper of the place and time, they suspect she has been possessed or gone into some kind of witchcraft. One of the girls starts to think and talk about spirits in the woods and panic arouses: all the girls who were in the woods start to behave as if possessed, which is, after Freud, a hysteric outburst. We may say now with Freud and Foucault that the discourse of the community is so powerful that the girls end up believing they have been victims of witchcraft and one falls after the other: collective hysteria. So, the interesting point is that these teenagers -and I think this age matters here as the introduction to womanhood, sexuality- start to accuse of witchcraft to almost every single woman of the community, that is, puritan mothers and wives. And that is the point I wanted to arrive at: teenagers belonging to a society with a terrific control over sexuality and the female body accuse women of being witches; women is what they are becoming, so a possible interpretation of the situation is the young girls’ sense of alienation with their own bodies and upcoming sexuality. Of course they are unconscious of it, but they are unclosed within the puritan discourse which demands of them to negate the experience of their puberty till, it may be said, it appears taking another form, that is, in the form of possession because this word belongs to the same discourse, so they are familiar with it, and it does not only belong to the same discourse, it is the evil part of the discourse, so is their bursting sexuality.

The situation goes completely out of control, and any woman is arbitrary accused of witchcraft by the girls. The trial is looking for witches, that is, women, so they are the scapegoat of a neurotic discourse, and I dare say, in this case it is a patriarchal one: women were the victims of the discourse, they were seen as dangerous, dangerously powerful, in the puritan context, they have a dangerous sexuality, they attract men to sin. That can be seen as the male control of the female body because they were scared of its power of seduction, and the girls in a sort of reaction against their own future bodies attack women as looking themselves in a mirror.   

What I find most interesting here is the relationship between the text or discourse, and the body in this particular context; there are more to say about it but maybe in another moment.

If you wish to see the play: http://www.oldvictheatre.com/whats-on/2014/the-crucible/

CfChapters: Evil Women and Mean Girls

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Texas Tech University is editing a book dedicated to historical representations of the female evilness from an interdisciplinary perspective. This book aims to explore topics such as the relationship between evil and female sexuality, female villains, or any association of evil with women and how have they historically differed from those of men.

More information here: http://call-for-papers.sas.upenn.edu/node/56763

Upcoming Conference: The History of Sexuality and Translation of the Classics

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CfP: The History of Sexuality and Translation of the Classics, Durham University, 27-28 March, 2015.

This conference aims to explore the influence Classic conceptions of sexuality have had in Western society, especially in notions of prohibition and taboo. Many concepts and examples have been taken from Classic myths and philosophy by Western authors to deal with sexual issues when those were not openly accepted. In this context, translation of Classic texts worked as a means of disguise to enter a prohibited world: how did translations influenced modern and contemporary ideas on sexuality?

More information: http://centreformedicalhumanities.org/the-history-of-sexuality-and-translation-of-the-classics-cfp-durham-university-march-27-28-2015/

Upcoming Conference On the Epistolary Genre

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Yours Sincerely: The Rise and Fall of the Letter
28-29 June 2013
Manchester, United Kingdom
The tradition of communication through correspondence can be traced far back in the annals of ancient history, but the rise of technology is daily changing the face and format of the letter. This conference will explore forms of correspondence as they have evolved from simple letters between friends and literary personalities and their shared experiences to revelations, through correspondence, of scientists, statesmen and celebrities. It will also look at the language used in the traditional letter, the email, the text message and the tweet as well as the constant change and development in this form of dialogue from the past and into the future, examining related fields and the letter in its historical and literary contexts. Papers are sought from all disciplines, including but not limited to literature, history, anthropology, psychology, philosophy and other social sciences and arts. Proposals are sought for 20 minute papers. Possible themes may include (but are not limited to):
The changing language of digital correspondence
Victorian women writers
Challenges of editing letters
Evidential value for biographers, historians
19th century letter writers
20th century letter writers
21st century letter writers
Use of letters as a device in fiction
The epistolary novel
The lasting value of digital correspondence as an archival or primary source
The future of letter writing
Abstracts of 250-300 words (for a 20 min paper) should be sent via email to librarian@theportico.org.uk or assistant.librarian@theportico.org.uk by 1st April 2013.
Selected papers may be invited for inclusion in an academic collection of essays following the conference.
An exhibition surrounding the theme of the conference will run from 11th June to the 26th of July at The Portico Library and will tie in with Quarry Bank Mill’s ‘Best Wishes’ exhibition which begins in April and extends to the rest of 2013.

Eastern European Hamlets at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, London

hamlet-dorobantu-dan-vivianThe panel discussion on Eastern European Hamlets will address the question of how the staging of Shakespeare’s Hamlet develops a socio-political potential in different cultural contexts in Eastern Europe post-1989.
 
On the basis of an interdisciplinary discussion between literary criticism, translation studies and performance analysis, the following questions shall be addressed during the discussion panel: What are the mechanisms of appropriation of Hamlet within different cultural contexts in Eastern Europe post-1989? How do such appropriation processes influence a self-understanding of Eastern Europe as the so-called ‘new’ Europe and how do they construct cultural identities? Does a phenomenon such as anEastern European Hamlet exist?
We are happy to announce that the panel will feature Prof. Dr. Boika Sokolova, Dr. Nicoleta Cinpoes, Dr. Marta Minier, Dr. Aneta Mancewicz, Dr. Sonia Massai, Dr. Duška Radosavljević and Alexandra Portmann, presenting on Bulgarian, Romanian, Hungarian, Polish, Lithuanian and Yugoslav Hamlets respectively.
 
Due to limited space, we would be very grateful if you could register online for the event:http://easterneuropeanhamlet.eventbrite.co.uk
 

Study Day at Oxford

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CALL FOR PAPERS

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POSTGRADUATE STUDY DAY

Friday 26th April 2013, Worcester College, Oxford

Organised by
Jennifer Rushworth, Worcester College, Oxford, and Richard Mason, King’s College London

We are pleased to open the Call for Papers for an upcoming postgraduate study day especially dedicated to graduate students working on Proust. The aim of this venture is to encourage dialogue and collaboration between current students of Proust and to gain a greater awareness of trends at the cutting edge of Proust studies. Since postgraduate study in the humanities can often be an isolated affair, the motivation behind this study day is that of enabling discussion and the sharing of ideas within a friendly and informal environment, and the establishment of a network of early-career Proustians for the purposes of future events and research.

Papers, in either English or French, should be a maximum of 20 minutes and should aim to present a significant aspect of the speaker’s current research, however provisional or tentative. New theoretical approaches to Proust, as well as any other aspect of Proustian research (sources, intertexts, and so forth), are particularly welcome.

Please email 250-word abstracts (text only, no attachments please) by 1st March 2013 to both jennifer.rushworth@worc.ox.ac.uk and richard.mason@kcl.ac.uk. Please remember to include your name, affiliation, and thesis title.

There will be a registration fee of £10 payable on the day to cover the costs of organisation and refreshments.

Time in European Modernism

clock-screen01 CFP MDRN conference 1: Time and Temporality in European Modernism and the Avant-Gardes (16-18 Sept. 2013)
 
Call for papers
 
Time and Temporality
in European Modernism and the Avant-Gardes (1900-1950)
16-18 September 2013 – KU Leuven, Belgium
 
This three-day conference aims to canvass the breadth and depth of the issues of time and temporality in European modernist writing and classic avant-garde literature.
It has often been argued that so-called “high” modernist and avant-garde writing were perhaps the first to investigate in detail the problems of time and temporality. As a result, reflection on both issues in (“new”) modernism and avant-garde studies abounds. To date, however, we lack a systematic understanding of the different forms and functions of time and temporality in the writing from the period. It is this lacuna the present conference aims to fill. We are particularly interested in (general as well as innovative case-based) considerations of modernist and avant-garde writing and practices that tackle one of the following questions:
  • How was time represented? What genres, techniques and means were deployed to evoke time?
  • In what ways was the literary representation of time influenced by (changes in) other media and art forms?
  • Which temporalities (bodily and natural time, mechanical and machine time, private and public time, etc.) were evoked and how did they interrelate?
  • How was the flow of time conceived (teleological, multilayered and -directional, cyclical, etc.) and what temporal regimes (for example, favoring the present, past or future; continuity and tradition or rupture and revolution) were at work in modernism, the avant-garde, and cognate phenomena like the so-called arrière-garde? What hitherto ignored temporal modes require further scrutiny?
  • What were the ramifications of modernist and avant-garde conceptions of time for the practice of reading, the history of the book (classics, pockets, …), and more generally for the social and cultural legitimation of literature?
  • What other (perhaps less well studied) discourses (physics, biology, engineering, philosophy, etc.) informed literary reflection on time and temporality and how were insights from these other discourses translated in literary practice?
  • How was time experienced and what were its implications for our understanding of the modern body, identity and subjectivity?
  • Were there noticeable variations in how time was dealt with in modernist and avant-garde writing in different parts of Europe (and beyond)? What, more generally, were the implications of the views of time for the understanding of space and place (in writing)?
  • Does the conception of time change in the course of the period 1900-1950, and, if so, what are the (social, literary, philosophical, …) conditions of emergence and consequences of these changes?
We welcome paper and panel proposals before 15 February 2013 on these and other questions crucial to any mapping of the literary timescape between 1900-1950. By analyzing in-depth how modernist and avant-garde writing reflected on time and change, we ultimately aim to explore the ramifications of these ideas for the literary historiography of the period.
Proposals are welcome from individuals, and from panels of three or four. We especially welcome panel proposals and prefer panels where members are drawn from different institutions, preferably across national boundaries.
Panel proposals should include the following information.
  1. Title of panel
  2. Name, address and email contact of Panel Chair
  3. A summary of the panel topic (300 words)
  4. A summary of each individual contribution (300 words)
  5. Name, address and email contact of  individual contributors
  6. Short biography of all contributors, incl. main publications and areas of expertise
Individual proposals should include the following information.
  1. Title of paper
  2. Name, address and email of contributor
  3. A summary of the contribution (300 words)
  4. Short biography of the contributor, incl. main publications and areas of expertise
Guided tours of the Husserl archive at KU Leuven will be offered to delegates upon request. A conference website is under construction. With proposals or any further questions at this stage contactsascha.bru@arts.kuleuven.be.