“Horrible Mothers” (Francophone North America) – Edited volume

What: Call for submissions for a proposed edited collection “Horrible Mothers” (Francophone North America)

Deadline: 31 May 2015

In her review of Jean-Marc Vallée’s film C.R.A.Z.Y., Dominique Borde referred to the mother as “potiche,” which proved rather oblivious to the significance of her role in the son’s survival. Such a comment underlines an institutionalized lack of consideration/credit for women and mothers. The irony of this comment also lies in the fact that Quebec was built – in part – on conservative ideologies that placed motherhood at its heart. Yet again, central as it was, mothers did not receive much credit. In literary productions and films, however, mothers constitute a central theme. This project wishes to investigate the notion of “horrible mothers” – mothers that do not fit the expected social norms – to reflect upon the evolution of the maternal status as well as contemporary concerns over motherhood. In her 1984 essay, “Thinking Sex,” Gayle Rubin argues: “Disputes over sexual behavior often become the vehicles for displacing social anxieties, and discharging their attendant emotional intensity” (267). Contributors should thus consider how the social, political, and economic contexts influence the variety of representations of women/mothers.

The volume is intended to expose the stakes of representing failed and/horrible motherhood across Francophone North America. Terms such as failed and horrible can be understood both as embraced or assigned qualities. Contributions from a wide range of disciplines are strongly encouraged, and interdisciplinary analyses are also welcome. Overall, submissions should demonstrate a queer approach in the sense that contributors should take into account the intersection of different sources of oppression.

The focus of this study is broad, ranging from early beginnings in North America to contemporary productions. Possible topics may include, though they are by no means limited to these suggestions:

– (Transgressive) representations of motherhood in texts

– Race, religion, and motherhood

– Cinematographic representations of motherhood

– Motherhood, motherland, and mother tongue (in the Louisiana context)

– Connections between motherhood and social changes

– Rejection of motherhood, matricide and infanticide

– Mothers and sexualities

– Motherhood and the First Nations

– Motherland, power, violence, transgression

– Comparative analyses between different francophone cultures of North America

– Performance of motherhood and mother-substitutes

– Mothers and Fathers

– Mothers and “deviant” children

– Motherhood and womanhood

Once a selection of abstracts has been made, a proposal will be put together and submitted to a university press (more info via email).

Please send a 300-word abstract and a brief biography to Loic Bourdeau (loic.bourdeau@icloud.com) by Sunday 31 May 2015. Full articles should not be due until late fall 2015, or early Spring 2016. All accepted articles will be peer-reviewed.

Loic Bourdeau
Assistant Professor of French and Francophone studies
University of Louisiana at Lafayette

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