Women and Power in French and Francophone Cultures and Societies

Women and Power in French and Francophone Cultures and Societies
17 May 2019, 9.00am - 19 May 2019, 7.00pm
Conference / Symposium
Hinsley Hall, 62 Headingly Lane, Leeds LS6 2BX

Shirley Jordan (Newcastle), Siobhan McIlvanney (KCL), Jackie Clarke (Glasgow)


Keynote Speakers:
Chahdortt Djavann
Iranian-born French author of powerful works of fiction and essays that scrutinize immigration, exile, identity, feminism and women’s position in Islamic societies 
Armelle le Bras-Chopard
French political scientist and essayist, specialist on women in the political sphere and on the history of witches

The topic ‘Women and Power’ is a particularly pertinent one in France today. Fifty years after May ’68, French society has seen a resurgence of politicised movements such as the ‘La Barbe’ or, more recently, the ‘Balance ton porc!’ campaign against sexual harassment and sexism in public life. Equally, French feminist writing played a pivotal role in challenging patriarchal literary, social and sexual norms, and much contemporary women’s writing in French continues to push the boundaries in its representation of the power relations governing women’s experiences. But where precisely does power in contemporary France lie? How is power gendered and what do its shifting fault lines tell us about women’s purchase on power? Can the French emphasis on ‘l’égalité dans la différence’ be reconciled with a genuinely egalitarian, power-sharing society? How is women’s relationship to power articulated according to culture or to class? And what are the challenges and contradictions of women possessing power? The conference will focus on historical and contemporary instances of power (and powerlessness), empowerment (and disempowerment) in order to explore the contention that what constitutes women’s ‘power’ requires renewed investigation and theorizing. Further, it will suggest that this extensive area of investigation is best served by working across disciplinary boundaries.

Generously supported by the Cassal Endowment Fund, The Association for the Study of Modern and Contemporary France, The Society for French Studies, publishers Peter Lang and Liverpool University Press, and Newcastle University 


Cathy Collins
020 7862 8738