CFP: [20th] Points of Exit: Biographies on the Move

full name / name of organization: 
Centre for Gender and Diversity

Points of Exit: Biographies on the Move

On Thursday, March 19, and Friday, March 20, 2009, the Centre for Gender
and Diversity, Maastricht University, the Netherlands, will mark its ten-
year anniversary with a conference entitled Points of Exit: (Un)
conventional Representations of Age, Parenting, and Sexuality. The
conference aims to examine the potential deconstruction of conventional
scripts of age, parenting, and sexuality.

For one of the panels, entitled Biographies on the Move, we invite papers
that deal with the following theme:

Right now, a wave of long overdue biographies is hitting The Netherlands.
Splendid, of course. And yet: academic reflection on life-narratives is
not very well developed in the Low Countries. The Dutch could very much
profit from English, German and French traditions of life-writing and the
theory thereof. We want to mix theory of life-writing with our gender-
and diversity-perspective. This means that we want to critically analyse
the way in which life-stories are impoverished and flattened by gender-
stereotypes, by the inability to look beyond the heterosexual matrix, by
colour-blindness. It still remains necessary to analyse the processes of
in- and exclusion in the biographical canon. But is it enough to add the
forgotten and the overlooked to the line-up of lives that are told and
remembered? No: we also have to analyse and repair the structural causes
of the process of exclusion. Is there something rotten in the narrative
conventions themselves, which are commonly deployed in life-writing? That
is the central question of this part of the symposium.

A life is usually told as a linear story, beginning with one’s birth,
ending with one’s death. It is very often told as a story of progress, of
growth â€" some decline at the end since the subject has to die one way or
another â€" but most often the story is a linear, chronological one of
development and growth and the acquisition of national or literary or
military or political significance. That is a narrative convention, also
a cultural topos, which forces every life in a similar mould. To its
detriment. This mould itself should be critically questioned. Which life-
writings (or films) break with traditional narrative conventions? How and
to what effect? What kinds of experiments in life-writing are and could
be undertaken?

Send in a 500-word abstract and a short bio to
(subject heading: “Biographies on the Move”) before November 1, 2008.

We aim at publishing a selection of conference papers in a special issue
of a peer-reviewed journal.

For further information on the Points of Exit conference, see:

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Received on Wed Oct 01 2008 - 05:29:02 EDT