CFP: Annulling Gender: The Legacy of Monique Wittig (12/30/04; collection)

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Annulling Gender: The Legacy of Monique Wittig

The deconstruction and eradication of gender is the central goal of Monique
Wittig=B9s work in literature, theory, and film. From her first fiction,
L=B9Opoponax, her work resists the universalization of the masculine and the
particularization of the feminine, as a way to deconstruct the legitimacy o=
these very concepts. In each successive text, she radically reworked
language not only to render it live, but to denaturalize and annul the =B3mar=
of gender.=B2 She articulates the difficulty of such a venture in her
collection of essays entitled The Straight Mind, an expression she coined.
Speaking of Djuna Barnes, but effectively describing her own work she

[The lesbian] poet generally has a hard battle to wage, for, step by step,
word by word, she must create her own context in a world in which, as soon
as she appears, bends every effort to make her disappear. The battle is
hard because she must wage it on two fronts: on the formal level with the
questions being debated at the moment in literary history, and on the
conceptual level against the that-goes-without-saying of the straight mind
(SM 65).

Her refusal to accept anything that-goes-without-saying made her thinking
profoundly unique and challenging. Perhaps most radically, Wittig took
Simone de Beauvoir=B9s claim that =B3one is not born a woman=B2 a step further,
via Marx, to claim that lesbians are not women because they do not
participate in the gender/class system of male/female. She fought, not for
recognition of minority status, but to lay bare the constructed nature of
naturalized dichotomies like male/female.

This collection assesses a central legacy of Monique Wittig=B9s work=8Bannullin=
gender. Although scholarship to date on Wittig=B9s work has addressed, to
some degree, her undermining of gender, scholars have largely subordinated
this topic within other contexts. For example, Parce que les lesbiennes ne
sont pas des femmes, ed. Marie-H=E9l=E8ne Bourcier and Suzanne Robichon, 2002,
based on a colloquium on her work in Paris in 2001 focuses on =B3[les]
r=E9flexions et analyses litt=E9raires dans des perspectives qui concernent
l=B9histoire contemporaine des lesbiennes, leurs mouvements politiques, les
enjeux et les pol=E9miques qui les int=E9ressent,=B2 addresses her work to annul
gender secondarily to a primary focus on lesbian history. While there are
numerous articles on Wittig=B9s work (with many more books and articles withi=
the fields of feminist, LGBT, and queer studies deeply indebted to her
work), there are only five books devoted solely to Wittig=B9s writing. Erik=
Ostrovsky=B9s, The Constant Journey (1991), focuses on Wittig=B9s strategies of
=B3renversement:=B2 =AD=B3the annihilation of existing literary canons and the
creation of highly innovative constructs.=B2 A less critical work, L=B9=C9critur=
de Monique Wittig: A la couleur de Sappho by Catherine =C9carnot, 2002
attempts to situate Wittig=B9s work at the crossroads of the Nouveau Roman an=
feminism. Dominique Bourque=B9s work, De l=B9intertextualit=E9 mythique dans Le
Corps lesbien de Monique Wittig, forthcoming in 2003 from Montr=E9al/Paris:
Publications AHLA, offers an excellent analysis of how intertextuality
functions in Le Corps lesbien. And finally, Namascar Shaktini=B9s edited
collection, Monique Wittig: Theoretical, Political, and Literary Essays,
forthcoming from University of Illinois Press, like the Bourcier and
Robichon collection, contains essays that approach various aspects of
Wittig=B9s work from numerous angles, but none that focus directly on this
primary motor of her work, the annullment of gender. Perhaps it is because
of the radical nature of such a project that no one has focused primarily o=
this aspect which is central to her work, but in her memory this collection
will honor the primacy of this project to her work.

We are interested in articles that approach the subject from a wide variety
vantage points including, but not limited to: linguistic, historical,
materialist, literary, philosophical, cultural, feminist, etc.
Articles might address questions like: What strategies for annulling gender
does Wittig make use of across texts and genres? To what effect? How do
these strategies translate? What is the relationship between queer theory
or postmodern theory and Wittig=B9s work in relation to gendering? What are
the political and/or philosophical foundations of the Wittigian project?
What is the influence the Wittigian project in literature, philosophy,
politics, etc.
Proposals are due by December 30, 2004 and the deadline for full texts is
July 15, 2005.
Please submit proposals or questions to:
Dominique Bourque : <> in
Julia Bal=E9n : in English

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Received on Thu Oct 28 2004 - 14:59:22 EDT

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