Language and Ethics of Care in Contemporary Literature - University of Montreal - Friday, Oct. 31st 2014

full name / name of organization: 
Department of Comparative Literature at University of Montreal and University of Alberta (Campus Saint-Jean)

Since Foucault's Le souci de soi, Carol Gilligan's In a Different Voice and Nel Noddings' Caring, the notion of care has built bridges between philosophy, psychology, ecology, sociology, anthropology and feminism. However, significantly less work has been published in the field of literature and fewer theorists address issues related to care in their analyses of fiction. Therefore, the first goal of this one-day conference is to create linkage and knots of tension between care ethics, care theory, care practices and literature. It has been argued that institutional and social language draws mostly on the judicial, on "the language of rights" (Fukuyama), but what is implied or expected when we shift to a language of care? What does it mean in terms of metaphors, textual and narrative strategies, and in terms of dis/trust between reading and writing processes?

We are particularly interested in studying how the direct and indirect connections between lived space, lived experience and notions of care are articulated. We seek, during this study day, to amplify our comprehension of these terms by studying their relationality in pieces of fiction and other forms of writing. What is the role of caring, of worrying about ourselves, others, and objects in identitary and spatial context? Why is care a necessary component? How does it manifest itself in the text? Is care gendered, sexualized? If it is, is it in a transgressive, transformative manner or does it tend to repeat heteronormative and patriarchal constructs? Does care go beyond words, is it (only) an affect? Can it be geographical, architectural? And in readings oriented towards the place of women and other marginal groups in the text and in the practice of writing, does a focus on care help us to reach beyond stereotypes and mainstream binaries? To whom does care benefit, and do we find care in particular places more than in others?

Finally, we are also interested in exploring the reader's responsibility, the writer's hospitality and the conflicts or concerns related to notions of proximity and distance. Inspired by Selma Sevenhuijsen's concept of "judging with care," we also invite papers that address how we look at the Other and how the Other looks at us in contexts of writing and reading. We invite contributors to submit abstracts that address any of the questions raised above or one of the following topics, without being limited to them:

- Figures of care
Solicitude and solidarity
Vulnerability and worry
Attention, protection and preservation
- Functions of care
Care and space
Care, environment and ecology
Care and community
Care and politics
Care and globalization
- Justice, responsibility and hospitality
- Feminist ethics
- Life writing
- Sexuality and gender studies
- Care and affect studies
- Care and postcolonial studies

Please send your proposals (400 words, in English or French) and a short bio (50 words) in a Word or PDF document to Dominique.Hetu@umontreal.cabefore July 15, 2014. This conference is organised by Dominique Hétu, Ph.D. candidate in Comparative Literature at the Université de Montréal, and by Maïté Snauwaert, assistant professor at the University of Alberta, Campus Saint-Jean.