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Imagining the Body in France & the Francophone World

Date: 19th and 20th January 2018

Venue: University of Birmingham

Confirmed keynote speakers: Dr. Kate Averis & Professor Lisa Downing
Invited artists: Fiorenza Menini & Dr. Jacqueline Taylor
Organisers: Antonia Wimbush, Polly Galis and Maria Tomlinson

The notion of ‘imagining the body’ problematises the possibility of representing the body as it is en soi - whether it be depicted textually, visually or orally –, which has remained a matter of conjecture amongst scholars within creative and theoretical fields alike. Interpretations of bodily identity and development have proved equally conflicted, and the vision of a shared bodily experience has generated both comfort and controversy, particularly amongst feminists and within the queer community. What exactly do we mean by the body and how do we represent it? Is there a commonality of bodily experience?

The body in all its complexity has fascinated and inspired artists, writers, filmmakers, journalists and philosophers for centuries, and is foundational to the French and Francophone aesthetic regime. This two-day bilingual, cross-cultural and interdisciplinary conference aims to bring together academics and postgraduate researchers working on representations of the body from both French and Francophone studies, in a wide range of disciplines, historical periods, and critical approaches. The purpose of the conference is to facilitate dialogue, debate, and exchange about why it is important to study the body in French and Francophone studies. This conference seeks to question how portrayals and conceptions of the body are influenced by and come to influence global, social phenomena (such as culture, politics, geography, socio-economics, law and medicine), and above all, how French and Francophone creative practice and theory shapes our understanding of the body.

 The following is an indicative, but by no means exhaustive, list of the kinds of issues we hope to address:

 -          Gender and/or sexuality and the body (the female body, the male body, the transgender body etc.)

-          The maternal body

-          The ageing body

-          Violence and abuse of the body

-          The body in movement/stasis or in situ

-          The body in exile

-          The body and society

-          Animal bodies

-          More ‘abstract’ definitions of the body (such as a body of water or a body of literature) will also be considered

Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words, with your name, institutional affiliation, short biography and contact details (excluded from word count), by 1st June 2017 to Antonia, Polly, and Maria using the email address imaginingthebody@gmail.com. Papers in both English and French will be welcome and should be no longer than 20 minutes