Mortified: Representing Women's Shame (essay collection; 12/15/09)

full name / name of organization: 
Erica Johnson and Patricia Moran
contact email:

Representing Women’s Shame

CFP: Essay collection

Interest in shame has gathered momentum in
recent decades, fuelled by the work of Helen Block Lewis, Leon Wurmser, and
Andrew P. Morrison, and by the revival and extension of the affect theorist
Silvan Tomkins in the work of Donald L. Nathanson, Gershen Kaufman, and others. Eve Sedgewick and Adam Frank’s 1995 edition
of Shame and Its Sisters: A Silvan
Tomkins Reader
notably brought shame into the mainstream of literary
criticism. Even more recently, scholars
have begun to explore a consistent finding that women are more shame-prone than
men. Helen M. Lynd, Sandra Bartky, J.
Brooks Bouson and others have outlined how shame functions as a gendered emotion. Joseph Adamson and Hilary Clark summarize the
connections between shame, humiliated fury, and depression in women’s
experience thus:

[S]hame has
traditionally shaped the experience of women under patriarchy. Women and others who suffer from inequality
in power are particularly prone to the humiliated rage that stems from
unacknowledged shame, a rage turned on the self and transformed to guilt
because one does not feel entitled to it.
Again, as the passive experience of being devalued and disempowered,
shame is linked with low self-esteem and depression; it has been established
that roughly twice as many women as men suffer from depression. (Scenes of Shame 22)

Mortified: Representing Women’s Shame seeks to explore how representations of women’s experiences
benefits from contextualizing those representations in a gendered understanding
of shame. To that end, we seek papers
that examine women’s shame in a variety of contexts and disciplines. Topics may include:

shame and the body

shame and money

shame and trauma

shame and guilt

shame and embarrassment

shame and depression

the intersection of gendered
shame with other such shaming ideologies as colonialism, homophobia, etc.

the poetics of shame

shame and orientalism

national shame

shame as affect or emotion

political shame

shame and silence

Please send a 500-word abstract by December
15, 2009 to both Patricia Moran ( and Erica Johnson (

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