Class, Confinement and Criminality in Contemporary Women’s Writing

Class, Confinement and Criminality in Contemporary Women’s Writing
19 August 2020, 10.00am - 11.15am

CCWW PGR online seminar series

All are invited to attend the Centre’s second, third and fourth PGR online seminars, as part of the inaugural series entitled 'Class, Confinement and Criminality'. This triad of themes is intentionally broad, opening out to consideration of women’s struggles at this critical moment in time, as well as tracing their evolution. The seminar series arises out of the need to create alternative spaces for academic discussion, engagement and motivation during these difficult times as we all continue to come to terms with COVID-19 and its impact.

The events outlined below tie together the themes of Class, Confinement and Criminality with two 15-minute papers followed by a Q&A. All events will be held in English.

Seminar 3

19 August 2020

Speaker 1
Beatrice Ivey (University of Sheffield): “Murder, Memory, and Writing Other Women’s Stories in Maïssa Bey’s Nulle Autre Voix (2018)”

Abstract: How do women writers tackle dynamics of class, privilege, and criminalisation when writing in the voices of other women? This paper will explore this question through a reading of Maïssa Bey’s Nulle autre voix (2018) that draws on debates concerning ownership in memory studies. The novel focuses on the singular voice of its narrator: an unnamed woman who has recently been released from prison, where she was confined for the murder of her husband. Socially ostracised by her neighbours, the narrator lives in a form of empowered self-confinement after her release from prison. The narrator-criminal is thus the ‘anti-héroine’ (El Moudjahid 2019) of the novel, a voice that resists all victimisation. As she is interviewed by a middle-class writer, the narrator struggles to find a way to lay claim to her own story, to retain control over the narrative, to insist on her ownership over the fluid and unstable memories of her life and her husband’s murder. Bey stages the relationship between an Algerian writer and her subject and adopts a self-reflective positionality towards the extractive nature of writing other peoples’ stories. While reading and writing have long been considered an act of militancy and liberation for Algerian women (Mehta 2014; 2016) – even for those writing in French – Bey introduces the complex ethics of writing by interrogating the jealous, territorialising, and predatory aspects of writing about Algerian women. Like fictional stories, memory narratives raise questions over ownership and transmission. Therefore, this paper will explore some of these ethical dilemmas by engaging in debates concerning theories of competitive, connective, and feminist memory. 

Speaker 2
Mireille Rebeiz (Dickinson College, USA): “From darkness to spotlight: how magical realism brings women out of confinement and into the light in Hyam Yared’s L’Armoire des Ombres

Abstract: Published in 2006 by Sabine Wespieser, L’Armoire des Ombres, or the Wardrobe of Shadows, tells the story of an unnamed woman who, desperate to pay rent and earn money, goes for a theatrical audition. Before she gets on stage, she is asked to remove her shadow. Shocked, she does as she is told and finds out that indeed she can remove and fold her shadow. On stage, she finds a wardrobe full of women’s shadows. Curious, she puts them on and tells their stories. She tells stories of abused women, women who were sexually assaulted, oppressed, and rejected by the Lebanese patriarchal society. She tells stories of women confined in conservative spaces, chained by traditions, toxic masculinity and war. This magical realist theatre becomes the space of freedom where raw truth is told and put on the spotlight. This paper seeks to examine how Hyam Yared represents the theme of women’s confinement. It shows how the writer, through the genre of magical realism, takes women out of their closed spaces and sheds light on their lives to expose women’s oppression in the Middle East.

This free event will be held online, at 10:00 am BST. Please note that it is essential that you register in advance to join the event, by using the Book Now button below. 

Download guidance on participating in an online event (pdf)

Seminar programme

22 July 2020, 10:00-11:15 BST
Seminar 1
Jemima Jobling (Newcastle): "Navigating Space and Class in Annie Ernaux’s Mémoire de fille (2016) – an exploration of class-based anxiety as told through the text’s intimate bedroom spaces"
Jessica Rushton (Durham): "Destablising the Nineteenth-Century Maidservant Revolt Narrative: Leïla Slimani’s Chanson douce (2016) – an investigation into how Slimani’s nanny figure echoes a nineteenth-century discourse around the rebellious maidservant"

5 August 2020, 10:00-11:15 BST
Seminar 2
Françoise Campbell (IMLR Visiting Fellow): “Confinement and Téléréalisme in Chloé Delaume’s J’habite dans la television
Ciara Gorman (Queen’s University Belfast): “Good Housekeeping: Confinement and Criminality in the Domestic Space”

19 August 2020, 10:00-11:15 BST
Seminar 3
Beatrice Ivey (University of Sheffield): “Murder, Memory, and Writing Other Women’s Stories in Maïssa Bey’s Nulle Autre Voix (2018)”
Mireille Rebeiz, (Dickinson College, USA): "From darkness to spotlight: how magical realism brings women out of confinement and into the light in Hyam Yared’s L’Armoire des Ombres"

2 September 2020, 10:00-11:15 BST
Seminar 4
Sonja Stojanovic (University of Notre Dame, USA): “Exposed Body: La caissière in Contemporary France”
Nadia Terki (Durham University): “Gender and terrorism: the role of women within radical movements”


Jessica Rushton
020 7862 8738