CFP NeMLA 2022: Maternal Care in Contemporary Quebecois Fiction (WiF Panel)

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Women in French @ NeMLA

Sara Giguère, Université de Montréal
Anne Brancky, Vassar College

Session Description:
Birthing gives rise to an ambiguous relationship between mother and child. On one hand, because it is gratuitous (preceded by no request and unencumbered by any requirement of restitution, it is impossible to reciprocate), the gift of birth constitutes an irrecoverable debt contracted by the child. On another hand, childbirth engages the mother (sometimes in spite of herself) in an unconditional act of giving to her child. Is the mother then also indebted to her child for having imposed this fatality on them? Is the mother motivated by a desire to be forgiven for the curse accompanying the gift of life? Can the mother end her sacrifice? Can the child? Does the child have to symbolically and/or literally "kill" or "abandon" their mother to become an individual? In what ways does care turn to cruelty when it is preceded and regulated by the logics of the gift and the counter-gift, of sacrifice and of debt?

Contemporary Quebecois writers such as Ying Chen, Marie-Célie Agnant, Martine Delvaux, Nelly Arcan, Katherine Raymond, Marie Sissi-Labrèche and Lori St-Martin have explored the entangled, perplexing, deeply loving and sometimes painful relationships between mothers and their children. Themes of sacrifice, attachment, unconditional love, separation and jealousy support and enrich fascinating portraits and theories of motherhood. This panel seeks to explore how the care that one gives or receives can have a cruel edge and become a burden. Papers focusing on Quebecois fiction are encouraged, but papers dealing with all francophone regions will be considered.

Please upload your proposed abstract (~250 words) to the NeMLA portal by September 30, 2021


Contact Anne Brancky (, or Sara Giguère ( with any questions you might have.