Unveiling Apocalyptic Desire: Fallen Women in Eastern Literature

full name / name of organization: 
Dr Colette Morrow and Dr Devaleena Das

The proposed book, Unveiling Apocalyptic Desire: Fallen Women in Eastern Literature will focus on unarticulated quandaries and the poetics of transgression of 'taboo' relationships featuring female characters in Asian literature who have trespassed social, religious and moral boundaries. The theoretical orientation is based on Eastern and Western feminist discourses that draw heavily on mind-body sexual politics, cultural constructs, the anatomy of sex and power in relation to myth and cultural psyche, denigration of female anatomy, gender performativity, abysmal and hysterical sexuality, semiotics, textual strategies and the politics of representation, queer theory, and psychoanalysis.
Rather than re-inscribing representations of transgressive female characters as whores, femme fatales, queens, and viragos and witches who embody the cultural unconscious of patriarchal society, the book argues that by performing unruly sexuality, even in patriarchal discourses that clearly exploit and/or condemn it, these characters produce forms of femininity that resist regulation. Consequently, this project will deconstruct tropes of fetishism, the patriarchal gaze, scopophilia in fetishisation of the female body, and archetypal taboos in order to excogitate a new discourse that redefines and celebrates these hyper-sexualised 'promiscuous' women in the light of the feminine power of erotic multiplicity, 'jouissance', matriarchy and homosexuality.
In so doing the book will offer new perspectives on so-called 'fallen' women across time and space in Middle Eastern and Asian literature and examine diverse modes of femininity engendered in these texts. A plethora of 'deviant' female figures in Eastern and Asian fiction qualify for inclusion in this study based on their characterization as storehouses of passion and power, followers of the occult , and controversial, scandalous women. To name a few, there are
 'Panchakanya' (five daughters) from Indian epics--Ahalya, Draupadi, Kunti, Tara and Mandodari.
 Rabindranath Tagore's revolutionary women—Binodini, Charulata or Bimala;
 Mirzā Muḥammad Hādī Rusvāí's Umrāʾō Jān Adā
 Premchandís Bāzāre Ḥusn/Sēvāsadan
 R.K Narayn's Rosie, Shanta Bai, and Daisy
 Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen's amaranthine hyper-sexualised women, some of whom are autobiographically self-reflexive,
 The scheming seductresses of Arabian Nights,
 Middle East writer Hanan al-Shaykh's Zahra from The Story of Zahra,
 Rebellious women in the texts of Chinese women writers' works—Lu Quingzi or Evelyn Lau,
 'Chantefables' from Chinese folk lore, such as Ji Ping Mei,
 Japanese geishas, Oiran and Shirabyōshi from books and epics like Memoirs of a Geisha and The Tale of the Heike,
 Sri Lankan writer Roma Tearne's Nulani from Mosquito,
 Salman Rushdie's femme fatales such as Sufia Zenobia, and
 Fallen women in the India-Pakistan partition literature of Saadat Hasan Manto, Attia Hosain, Khushwant Singh and Anita Desai.
Proposals that draw upon both Eastern and Western feminist critical/literary theories and modes of inquiry are strongly encouraged. An example of a proposal along these lines would couple Luce Irigaray's concept of 'jouissance' with Chinese feminists' analysis that the concept of 'femme fatale' is rooted in a patriarchal phobia that threatens the predominance of masculinity. Likewise, a proposal synthesizing the Asian and Indian philosophical perspective that rebellious women and their passions generate a powerful creative force with Cixous' notion of écriture feminine would be well received. However, contributors need not fit their essays within the stipulated parameters outlined above. Primarily, the editors are seeking proposals that analyse female 'outlaws' in Eastern literature.
Deadline for submission of papers: 30th October 2013.
1. Submit a paper of maximum 5000 words along with a 250 words abstract and key words on a separate page to the editors at litprojects.submission@gmail.com
2. A manuscript that has been published or that is currently under consideration for publication elsewhere in either article or book form should not be submitted.
3. Submission only by e-mail in MS Word format following MLA 7 style sheet
4. Strictly use Times New Roman font using 12-point with 1.5 spacing and title of paper in bold letters at the centre.
5. Try to eliminate all typos/ spelling errors and grammatical fly offs.
6. Send also a brief and concise bio note mentioning professional details, specialisations, current affiliation and email id.
For any queries send email to
Dr. Colette Morrow
Associate Professor of English
(Purdue University, Calumet)
Senior Fulbright Scholar
Past President, National Women's Studies Association
Editorial Board, Feminist Formations
Dr Devaleena Das
Assistant Professor of English
Jesus and Mary College,
University of Delhi