Reimagining Rebecca: a symposium on du Maurier’s novel & its legacy
Call for Papers: Reimagining Rebecca: a symposium on du Maurier’s novel & its legacy
A symposium at the University of Sussex on 27th May 2022
Deadline for abstract submissions: 7th March 2022
“I am glad it cannot happen twice, the fever of first love,” writes Daphne du Maurier in her 1938 domestic Gothic novel Rebecca. But to look at Rebecca’s legacy is to see the fever of love for the story itself happen over and over again. Its influences on the 20th century domestic gothic and 21st century domestic noir literary genres have been well documented, while it has been adapted for the screen multiple times, most notably by Alfred Hitchcock in 1940 and Ben Wheatley in 2020. Literary sequels have been penned by Susan Hill in 1993 (Mrs. de Winter) and Sally Beauman in 2001 (Rebecca’s Tale), while Taylor Swift has recently spoken of the novel as inspiration for her song ‘Tolerate It’ on her 2020 album Evermore. The novel has won multiple awards, consistently proving its enduring influence and popularity, even while it has been accused of plagiarism for its similarities to other novels traversing comparable thematic ground, perhaps complicating such a clear cut idea of Rebecca and its legacy.
Such a sprawling, complex and ever-developing legacy illustrates the indelible mark Rebecca has left on popular culture, but, as du Maurier suggests, the fever of first love might never be truly replicated. How, then, can we consider the lasting legacy of Rebecca, particularly its many adaptations? What is perhaps lost in the retelling of this tale, and how might it have been changed and updated to rekindle something of that feverish first love for new audiences? In what ways do these adaptations cross boundaries of genre and media formats? What might this tell us about the nature of adaptation more generally, particularly in a contemporary climate obsessed with nostalgic remakes and revivals? And, looking to the past, to what extent can Rebecca even be considered a point of origin for this legacy, considering the long tradition of female Gothic fiction, for example, Jane Eyre?
This symposium will be held on Friday 27th May at Sussex University, aiming to explore these questions and beyond through examinations of du Maurier’s novel and its legacy: its feverish first love, its second wives, and its haunting, ghostly imprint on popular culture.
We would like to invite proposals for 20 minute presentations on any topic related to Rebecca and its legacy, which could include but are not limited to:
- Landscape / Cornish Gothic
- Domestic space
- Formulations of family
- Lesbian subtext
- Iterations of masculinity and femininity
- The second wife in domestic Gothic/noir
- Traces of Rebecca across popular culture
- Trans-media adaptations, e.g. adapting literature for music
- Comparative explorations of different versions of Rebecca
- Problematising Rebecca as point of origin: e.g. allegations of plagiarism, previous works of female Gothic etc.
- Updating Rebecca for the 21st century
- Adaptation & the contemporary culture of popular nostalgia
- The evolution of women’s literary/cinematic genres
Please submit abstracts of 250 words, plus a short bio of 50 words, by March 7th 2022 to the organisers, Katharina Hendrickx (K.Hendrickx@sussex.ac.uk) and Amelia Crowther (Amelia.Crowther@sussex.ac.uk). Scholars of all stages are welcome to submit proposals, but we particularly encourage submissions from postgraduate and doctoral students and early career researchers. Please also send any questions to the above email addresses.