Simone de Beauvoir: Decay and Renewal, call for contributors for volume

deadline for submissions: 
November 1, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
E. Nicole Meyer / Augusta University and Arline Cravens / Saint Louis University
contact email: 



Simone de Beauvoir:  Decay and Renewal

Call for Contributors to a volume of essays edited by E. Nicole Meyer and Arline Cravens


Simone de Beauvoir haunts contemporary criticism, as conferences and recent volumes flesh out new avenues of considering her vast production. Julia Kristeva (Beauvoir présente,2016), Eric Touya de Mayenne (Simone de Beauvoir: Le combat au féminin, 2019), P.-L. Fort (Simone de Beauvoir, 2016), Lecarne-Tabone et al. (L’Herne Beauvoir, 2012), and others consider her life and works in relation to the great questions of our time. The UK Sartre Society Annual Conference, July 2019, devotes itself to de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex, the questioning of her philosophy, in relation to a plethora of fascinating debates.

As disaster, natural, political, social and other, dominate the thoughts of so many, we turn to a subtler aspect of Simone de Beauvoir’s writing. Our volume proposes to reflect upon decay within Beauvoir’s many writings. Decaying bodies, relationships, surroundings (domestic and urban), social and institutional structures infect her many writings. We invite essays that reflect on how decay appears within Simone de Beauvoir’s writings, how they treat decay. Do her works transform it into something other?  Can decay be thought of in a positive way? How does decay in Beauvoir lead to regeneration and potentially a rethinking of existential philosophy? In addition, questions of evolution, progression or renewal seem apt. We wonder whether these discussions can go beyond this to a reworking of the grotesque / sublime relationship? Or, do the dark contours of decay add something to our reading of Beauvoir? How does her work rethink the body in relation to previous medical, literary or artistic works? Does decay correlate to the era of “post” such as Postfeminism or Posthumanism? How do her works foresee twenty-first century concerns? How would notions of decay enrich readings of her works in conjunction with the Résistance and the Occupation? We welcome readings of her texts in tandem with her own works, or in conjunction with other authors of the time period. What can we learn about our current concerns in reading Simone de Beauvoir from the lens of decay?

Given the plethora of concern for social issues from natural to social disasters, violence and strife, the increasingly interdisciplinary work being done, our theme seems particularly timely. Add to that, ageing and disintegrating academic institutions in which we work, scholarly production appears to be heading toward a darker vision of future literary production. This can be seen with literary prizes being given to works such as Philippe Lançon’s Le Lambeau. Historians, philosophers, and literary scholars are currently focusing on social decay from school shootings to anti-Semitic and anti-LGBTQ actions.

Our volume breaks new ground by rethinking themes that have intrigued Beauvoir scholars over the years. For instance, decay is a new prism for issues of mothering, ageing and death in her works. Our volume will include articles covering a wide array of her literary production as well as possibly her theoretical treatises. We may receive and thus consider articles more biographical in nature, if they shed new light on Beauvoir in an intriguing way that applies to our theme.


Please submit your proposal (500 words, not including a brief working bibliography) to both E. Nicole Meyer ( and Arline Cravens ( by November 1, 2019

To guarantee consideration for publication in this volume, submissions of abstracts must be received by November 1, 2019 to both co-editors. Final chapters would be invited for March 2020.


E. Nicole Meyer, Professor of French and Women’s and Gender Studies, Augusta University,

Arline Cravens, Assistant Professor of French, St. Louis University


E. Nicole Meyer is Professor of French and Women’s and Gender Studies at Augusta University. Dr. Meyer’s current research focuses on Fractured Families in French Women’s autobiography and how those fractures erupt in the narration of women’s lives. This book project features Simone de Beauvoir. Her most recent book is the Rethinking the French Classroom: New Approaches to Teaching Contemporary French and Francophone Women, coedited with Joyce Johnston (Routledge, 2019)

Arline Cravens is Assistant Professor of French at St. Louis University. Dr. Cravens specializes in women writers and gender theory. Her most recent award-winning publication is a special volume on Virginie Despentes for The Rocky Mountain Review, coedited with Michèle Schaal (Spring 2018). Her work intersects in interesting ways with Simone de Beauvoir.