deadline for submissions: 
January 31, 2024
full name / name of organization: 
Arizona State University
contact email: 

Like no other, Marcel Proust was able to depict Paris, from the Belle Epoque to the interwar period, as the stage of a vast mundane theatre on which the last scions of aristocracy who were also successful writers like Robert de Montesquiou, Élisabeth de Clermont-Tonnerre, Anna de Noailles, Marthe Bibesco, Carmen Sylva, Elena Vacaresco, Aurélie Ghika, and Ludmila Savitsky enacted their glamorous lives by turning them into striking performances.


In the society of writers like Rachilde, Natalie Clifford Barney, and Adrienne Monnier, young authors like Marcel Proust, André Gide, Colette, Jean Cocteau, Renée Vivien, René Crevel, and Mireille Havet, among many others, emerged as the new avantgarde that produced a literature in which questions of class and gender intertwine and call into question the values of traditional Parisian society by contesting gender and relationships among social classes. As Laure Murat argues in her recently published Proust, roman familial/Proust, a family novel (Paris, 2023), sexual inversion “blurs class and power relationships, undermines social conservatism, all the while maintaining appearances, because gay and lesbians are even more subject to the silence which binds them in shame and secrecy than to the vice they share in pleasure. Subterfuges, strategies, the unspoken, lies, dissimulation, involuntary betrayals: it is all about theatre, about playing games, about techniques of recognition and subliminal dances of seduction.”


It is this Parisian theatre of “subterfuges,” of “strategies”, of “the unspoken”, of “lies”, of “dissimulation” and that of “involuntary betrayals”, as it appears in some of the works published in the interval from the Belle Epoque to the Interwar period, that we propose to address over two days (April 24-25, 2024) during an international conference organized in Tempe on the campus of Arizona State University. "Théâtre mondain: Performing Class and Gender in Paris" encourages contribution proposals from scholars belonging to various disciplines, from literature, history, art, and history to gender and sexuality studies. The 20-minute papers could respond to issues raised by, but not limited to, the following topics:


  • How do interbellum writers approach issues of gender and sexuality?
  • What do these authors reveal with respect to the power structures and changes in society?
  • What ethical issues are debated, or, by contrast, what ethical issues are avoided in their works?
  • How does technological progress transform the literature of this period?
  • How is the non-human represented?
  • How do these authors utilize chronotopes to evoke their experiences?
  • How do relatively recent theoretical frameworks, such as affect theory, intersectionality, posthumanism, ecocriticism, or disability studies, reveal new facets of literary and visual works produced in this period?


The proposals (in English or French) should not exceed 2500 characters, should be accompanied by a brief bio-bibliography that connects structure, research, subject, and recent work, and should be sent to all three of the organizing committee members.