EXTENDED Greater Aliveness: Women’s Bodies in Literature

deadline for submissions: 
August 31, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Université de Montréal

Greater Aliveness: Women’s Bodies in Literature

In her opening statement in “Write Your Body”, Trinh T. Minh-Ha explores and confronts unspoken rules around writing the body: “Women must write through their bodies. Must not let themselves be driven away from their bodies. Must thoroughly rethink the body to re-appropriate femininity. Must not however exalt the body, not favor any of its parts formerly forbidden. Must perceive it in its integrity. Must and must-nots, their absolution and power” (258). Yet in abandoning constraints, who can endure such “open-endedness” and vulnerability, she inquires. Disarming the self, reorienting the self, and, at times, wholly abandoning rules and constraints offer unmediated, or differently mediated, approaches for flourishing: “When armors and defense mechanisms are removed, when new awareness of life is brought into previously deadened areas of the body, women begin to experience writing/the world differently. This is exciting and also very scary. For it takes time to be able to tolerate greater aliveness” (258). 

One can find echoes of Helen Cixous’s concept of ecriture feminine in Minh-Ha’s appeal of women writing through their bodies. Expanding on the contemporaneous notions of gynocentrism, ecriture feminine made the bodily experiences of the woman central to the process of writing. Gynocentrism was the first such movement that pushed for a change in the phallocentric perspectives dominating literary and academic writing. Ecriture feminine’s emphasis on the woman’s body and its experiences revolutionised the way women’s subjectivity and bodies started being perceived and presented. This led to a radical shift in literary language and presentation – something further curated and embellished upon by later poststructuralist feminists. This paved the way for Butler’s questions regarding the ontological representations of women (and men), and the claim that the body should be read as a socio-legal construction upon which gender is marked (11). Butler’s claims brought forward the possibility of ‘non-intelligible’ bodies which made for a radical departure from the conforming/established gender identities in place.

Writing the woman’s body therefore assumes a space that one inhabits within, and through, social, cultural, political, and other dimensions. Writing about the woman’s body and creating a subjectivity upon which ontologies of the woman’s body may be contested become a life-affirming, yet radical, process.

The Harbour Journal at the Université de Montréal invites writers to submit academic work for publication in our fourth issue that explores the acts, processes, and reorientations involved in writing toward “greater aliveness” in women's bodies. Academic work may consider a multitude of topics, ranging from, but not limited to, problems and possibilities of woman conceived as body, metaphors of the female body, ontologies of racialized bodies, post-binary and non-binary bodies, altered bodies, pregnant bodies, the disabled body, hybrid and spectral bodies, performing bodies, body as the embodiment of pain, pleasure, and desire, erotic/eroticized bodies, somatophobia, discursive bodies (and discourses about the body), materiality of the body, the ecological body and biopolitics, and body politics. The Harbour accepts interdisciplinary academic writing however it is encouraged that at least one literary subject be included in the paper.

  • We invite abstracts of 300 words along with the full academic paper of 3,500-4,000 words.

  • Authors are requested to not include their names or affiliation on the text of the abstract/paper. 

  • Authors will be notified upon selection. 

  • Only unpublished works shall be accepted.

All submissions must be made through the following link https://forms.gle/HALcAswPyQBbr7cv5