Death and the Maiden: A Special Issue of Writing from Below - 1 March 2014

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Writing from Below
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A recurring symbol and theme in Western cultural production since the fifteenth-century, imagery of death and the maiden reveals a dark bond between sexuality and death. Pictures of a decaying corpse seducing a young woman, such as Hans Baldung's Death and the Maiden, became popular during the Renaissance, and have been repeated and adapted oftentimes since, the theme taken up by modern artists such as Edvard Munch and Egon Schiele, or composer Franz Schubert. European folk and fairy tales, such as the perennially retold Bluebeard, have often adapted the motif, and more contemporary works have engaged with the legacy of the motif, reworking this symbol of a long-standing anxiety for a contemporary audience and modern sensibility, with an eye towards what it might be able to reveal about us, here and now, today.

Writing from Below wants to uncover not only why this motif endures, how it has evolved and why, and what this socio-cultural persistence means, but also desires to ask: How might we recuperate this motif, remix it, rewrite it from below, as an act of critical subversion? Writing from Below is calling for both critical and creative works responding to the broad theme of 'Death and the Maiden', for a special issue of the journal to be published in August 2014. We are seeking submissions which examine the motif of 'death and the maiden', and other associated themes and subjects, in literature, poetry, film, television, music, sound art, theatre, dance, visual arts, etc., on topics including (but not limited to):

* Female sexuality and death, homicide, or suicide
* Social or cultural histories of the 'death and the maiden' motif, the aesthetic and theoretical evolution of these figures
* Critical analyses of the concept of maidenhood, why the maiden is bound so intimately to the figure death
* Critical analyses of artistic, philosophical, or psychoanalytic approaches to 'death and the maiden', including its relation to what Freud postulates as the 'death drive'
* 'Death and the maiden' in popular culture (film, television, literature, art, etc.)
* Sexuality, death, and the body, including diseased and decaying bodies, necrophilia
* Sexual violence, rape culture
* Representations of 'death and the maiden' in historical or contemporary reporting of real crimes against women
* La danse macabre, the connection between dance and the idea of death
* Queering 'death and the maiden', non-female maidens, transgendered or non-gendered maidens
* Critical or creative retellings, remixes, inversions, or subversions of 'death and the maiden', in any publishable medium

We welcome submissions from across (and outside of) the disciplinary spectrum: literary and cultural studies, journalism, media and cinema studies, game studies, art history, visual art, theatre and drama, performance studies, languages and linguistics, philosophy, theology, sociology, anthropology, history, politics, public policy, law, legal studies, criminology, the health sciences, etc.

This special issue of Writing from Below is open for submissions until Friday 7 March 2014. Written submissions, whether critical or creative, should be between 3,000 and 7,000 words in length, and should adhere to the 16th edition of the Chicago Manual of Style. All submissions (including creative works – we do not privilege one type of work over another) will be anonymously peer reviewed by at least two referees. All written submissions must be accompanied by a 200 word abstract and a brief biographical statement. All artworks must be accompanied by an artist's statement of approximately 500 words, and a brief biographical statement. Please visit the Writing from Below website for more detailed submission guidelines and procedures, and to submit your work:

For more information, please contact our guest editors:
* Dr Stephen Abblitt
* Dr Natalie Pirotta
* Dr Hannah Schurholz

About the journal
Writing from Below is a peer-reviewed, open-access, interdisciplinary journal providing a forum for original research on gender, sexuality, and diversity, and the array of intersecting issues shaping their social and cultural expression. We publish critical and creative submissions from a broad range of disciplines, as well as generically transgressive work that cannot easily be placed. We aim in particular to provide a venue for the work of postgraduate students and early career researchers. Writing from Below is supported by La Trobe University and the Centre for Creative Arts.