Class, Confinement and Criminality in Contemporary Women’s Writing

Class, Confinement and Criminality in Contemporary Women’s Writing
2 September 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 4

2 September 2020

Speaker 1
Sonja Stojanovic (University of Notre Dame, USA): “Exposed Body: La caissière in Contemporary France”

Abstract: This paper considers representations of cashiers and their bodies as sites of oppression through an analysis of Marie-Hélène Lafon’s Nos vies (2017) and Anna Sam’s Les Tribulations d’une caissière (2008) – including the 2011 film adaptation directed by Pierre Rambaldi. Although the very nature of a cashier’s job is indeed to be confined to a small space, exposed to customers’ demands and gaze, and reduced to her hands (how fast she scans articles, how quickly she gives the customer their change, etc.), I also argue that contemporary cultural productions compound the oppressive aspect of this position through an exaggerated focus on cashiers’ bodies and an othering gaze. For instance, Lafon’s bourgeoise narrator makes the following observation about the cashier: “Elle n’habite pas son corps, elle se prête” (19-20); it thus does not come as a surprise that words like “sauvage” and “féroce” are constantly used to describe her, and that her unruly breasts “franchissent les limites, ne nous épargnent pas” (12) and warrant several detailed mentions, while little care is actually given to getting to know this character. Furthermore, this type of discourse is even more pronounced if the caissière is a woman of colour and/or an immigrant, as can be seen in Rambaldi’s film adaptation. Finally, I argue that the concept of exposure can be pushed further in the context of the current Covid-19 pandemic. The exposure becomes quite literal; cashiers and other supermarket/grocery workers have been on the frontlines of the crisis, their bodies bearing the brunt of repeated exposures to customers (many of whom blatantly disregard safety measures). 

Speaker 2
Nadia Terki (Durham University): “Gender and terrorism: the role of women within radical movements”

Abstract: The link between gender and terrorism is not at the centre of the terrorism discussion as a whole. Studies on women and terrorism tend to focus efforts on explaining the reasons behind the presence of women in radical movements. Different links are drawn between the emotional capacities of women and their actions within the sphere of political violence, yet there is a considerable lack of consideration regarding the rational and the context of their participation in terrorism. Radicalisation, state terrorism, suicide bombing and gender are among the foundations that Kamila Shamsie aimed at visualising through her narrative and their functioning in a world dominated by surveillance and terror. Home Fire (2017) invites us to adopt a deep and sceptical vision of the implication and the presence of women within the sphere of terrorism as well as the reasoning that links gender and political violence. The presentation aims at uncovering some of the aspects that lay behind women’s participation in violent movements within the context of the post 9/11 period and Anarchism during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

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