CFP: [20th] Happy Endings

full name / name of organization: 
Armelle Parey
contact email: 

Call for papers
Happy Endings

University of Caen Basse-Normandie, France
23rd-24th January 2009

Happy endings are frowned upon. Loved by readers, they are loathed by
critics: as the conventional conclusion to fairy tales and Victorian
novels, the vehicle of patriachal hegemony promoting conservative values
such as marriage and heterosexuality, happy endings are said to be a burden
for the novelist and the sure sign of the poverty of a text submitting
itself to the pressure of a readership avid of easy rewards. Happy endings
have thus been disparaged by critics, ever since Henry James’s mocking
definition (“a distribution at the last of prizes, pensions, husbands,
wives, babies, millions, appended paragraphs and cheerful remarks”). Yet,
scholars such as Barbara Weiss (“The Dilemma of Happily Ever After:
Marriage and the Victorian Novel”, 1984) and Alison Booth (Famous Last
Words, 1993) have shown that nineteenth-century novelists were not the
blind advocates of domestic felicity, and contributions furthering this
point will be welcome. We also propose to extend the question of the
existence and representation of happy endings to twentieth and twenty-first
century novels and films. What form and what place do happy endings have
today? Is conjugal love still a telos? Do they still signify aesthetic and
moral conservatism? Do they still display the same ideology of
reconciliation and escapism from social ills? What narratives of gender
roles do they tell? This conference will aim at exploring the formal and
ideological dimension of happy endings through the ages.

In literature, papers will explore general fiction, with a particular
attention to texts in which happy endings conventionnally play a major
part: romance, children’s literature and (fairy) tales --as well as their
rewriting (by Angela Carter, A.S. Byatt or Jeanette Winterson).

On screen contributions will question filmic representations of literary
happy endings, or more generally, on the importance of happy endings in
British and American cinema, in classic or contemporary films.

Please send a 300-word abstract to and
The deadline for submission is June 1st, 2008. Notifications will be mailed
in July 2008.
Please mention in your proposal any audio-visual equipment needed.
Please include complete contact information (name, home address,
email, phone, affiliation) along with a short CV.

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Received on Sun Dec 09 2007 - 08:53:55 EST