Call for chapters:Literary Museums at home: Literature indoors

deadline for submissions: 
October 15, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
MuséaLitté

 

As part of the project MuséaLitté, we would like to explore in this new book the different ways in which literature is exhibited and appropriated within the domestic or intimate sphere of the home, according to a range of different theoretical approaches: literary studies, art history, sociology of art, history of ideas, etc. As house museums grow in number, they also attract an increasingly large and diverse audience, which in turn questions the nature of the relationship between the museum and the home. To what extent do museums dwell within us? Do they inhabit us the way we inhabit them when we visit them? How do museums inform our environment? In what ways do they affect our practices and habits? When or why does one make a museum in their home, or a museum of their home? Furthermore, what do these domestic, indoors literary museums tell us about what literature is, what it does, or what we choose to do with it?

In the home, certain daily practices involve the exhibition of literature in ways that are similar to those encountered in a museum. Decoration and design, dishware, fashion, wardrobes, the display of certain brands, even costumes, not to mention boardgames or children’s toys, may all be considered means of inscribing the literary within the home. Can we not then regard the home as a form of literary museum, an intimate exhibition space of literary material, if not a space for the production of narrative and discourse regarding literature itself? The home may also produce objects inspired by literature, most notably via certain activities that blur the lines between work and artwork, art and craft - for example, textile samplers, quilting, embroidery, or other ‘women’s work’ inspired by literary texts, in addition to artistic and leisure practices that incorporate text, books, or even ‘iconotexts’ and illustrations; from scrapbooking to Outsider Art, from decorations to tapestry or canvas cartoons. 

These practices situated at the intersection of home, museum, and workshop may be just as pertinent as the guides and websites showcasing them, thus rendering them accessible to the greater public. Art that makes creative use of literary material may also be of interest, including home-made portraits of authors, for example, or books that have been somehow altered or sculpted, whose pages may even serve as a medium for graphic art. 

Literature or literary material may otherwise be the theme of specific collections inside the house, perhaps even a set of devotional or fetish objects. Bibliomania in all of its forms may be of potential interest, from rare editions to signed copies to editorial collections. Likewise, one may consider the altar located at the heart of the home that is made up of an accumulation of derived objects, which like so many literary fetish objects, are arranged as if exhibited in a museum.Submissions may focus on a literary-themed collection in the house, or on the objects within a collection: locket portraits with or without an inscription, photographs, busts, engravings, death masks of writers, or even the cultural practices and strategies that aim to bring literature into the home, including prayer books, holiday gift-books, encyclopaedias, and books offered as prizes. Submissions may analyse how literature is called into question through these unusual, sometimes apocryphal objects, as well as their circulation through auction houses and other collector’s circuits. Proposals that analyse the link between literature and material culture, or between literature and thing theory are also welcome.

The duality that characterises this domestic literary landscape, a space for simultaneously exhibiting the literary and producing literature, in reference to Ernst Kantorowicz’ idea of ‘the author’s double body’ (see The Author's Effects: On Writer's House Museums by Nicola Watson, 2020) becomes particularly evident once the house itself turns out to be the medium for the act of writing, with its walls or gardens decorated with various quotes or original texts. Spaces such as the cabinet of curiosities or reliquary may be chosen as a topic of interest. Submissions may also choose to focus on the gestures that bestow a given space with a certain literary charm, such as a library, a living room, an office, a garden shed, an attic, a dormitory, a hotel room, or even those spaces that are comparatively smaller or physically moveable, as is the case of the portable museum or Marcel Duchamp’s ‘box-in-a-suitcase.’

As a matter of fact, certain writers work in a hybrid room, inspired by the ‘enchanted ground’ (Nicola Watson) of 19th-century English authors; something between a study and a museum space. Examples include Sigmund Freud’s famous study in Vienna, or André Breton’s workshop in Paris. Incidentally, both of these rooms have been preserved and turned into house museums, as the Freud Museum in Greater London and the ‘Breton Wall’ at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris respectively. Submissions that choose to analyse the past or present ways in which writers inhabit their home are welcome, especially when these homes become museum spaces during their lifetime, and when the objects accumulated by these writer-curators are intimately linked to their writing.

The chapters of this collective volume, written in French or in English, will explore the way in which literature indoors influences, informs, and transforms our daily practices, according to the non-exhaustive range of propositions listed above, in Europe as in the rest of the world, from the Middle Ages up until today.

Submissions (500 words maximum) are to be sent to the following three e-mail addresses before Friday 15 October 2021, accompanied by a short biography and bibliography.

Anne Chassagnol (Université Paris 8): anne.chassagnol@univ-paris8.fr  

Sylvie Kleiman-Lafon (Université Paris 8): sylvie.kleiman-lafon@univ-paris8.fr

et Caroline Marie (Université Paris 8): caroline.marie.up8@gmail.com

 

Submission deadline: October 15, 2021

Notification: end of October 2021

Final manuscript due: February 28, 2022