Hunger and Waste
Theme Issue of LITERATURE AND MEDICINE (Volume 39, Number 2, Fall 2021)
Deadline for proposals: 1 May 2021
Issue Editor: Isabelle Meuret
This issue of Literature and Medicine will interrogate expressions of hunger and waste in both literary and biomedical contexts.
Hunger is a physiological disposition, a daily preoccupation, and a metaphor for desire. On another scale, global hunger—leading to malnutrition and starvation—affects hundreds of millions living in poverty. As for waste, the dearth, careless use, or squandering of resources, together with climate change and other environmental challenges, have raised new concerns about food supplies and unequal access.
Literary variations on the theme of hunger and waste span from the stories of hard-line strikers to those of hunger artists or modern anorexics. Famine fiction is a genre in itself. Memoirs by eating-disordered patients have replaced fasting saints’ hagiographies. Likewise, doctors and caregivers are confronted with the complications of bodies wasting away: subjects may be affected by severe pathologies, suffer dietary restrictions, endure invasive treatments, or resist nutritional intervention or rehabilitation. But while inanition can be lethal, fasting also proves therapeutic. Severe calorie restriction endangers the functions of the organism, induces alterations in energy metabolism, results in nutrient deficiencies and dehydration—yet abstaining from food may cause health benefits in terms of weight loss, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.
Both literature and biomedicine grapple with issues pertaining to hunger and waste in terms of representations (How, by whom, to what ends are stories of starvation told? How do the mechanisms of hunger and waste work? What are the effects of malnutrition on mind and body?); significations(What are the social, political, religious meanings of hunger? Is anorexia a response to trauma?); aggravations (What are the consequences of famine on vulnerable populations? How does emaciation interpellate the other?); counteractions (Which clinical, ethical, and humanitarian responses best address food deprivation? What are the challenges of (re-)feeding individuals and entire nations?)
These questions show the many avenues for problematizing hunger and waste in fields such as the health and medical humanities, cognitive literary criticism, fat and hunger studies, and narrative medicine. They invite interdisciplinary dialogue with sociology, philosophy, history, psychology, anthropology, media and cultural studies, and performing and visual arts. They also encourage and welcome intersectional methodologies, for instance in connection with disability and lgbtq+ studies, or critical race theory. In any instance, proposals should consider literature or biomedicine, or both, in their broadest sense, as points of reference, and will ideally fit in one of these topical categories:
- Food insecurity; malnutrition in times of poverty, famines, wars, exiles, and epidemics.
- Food waste; including protest against consumerism, or environmental impact thereof.
- Hunger strikes; political and/or subversive resistance to coercion and oppression.
- Fasting vs feasting; asceticism, relative to spiritual or religious taboos and rituals.
- Anorexia; pathologization, medicalization, and treatment of self-starvation.
- Hunger and anger; expression of rage, of ravenous appetites and insatiable desires.
Strong submissions that do not quite fit into the theme issue as it takes shape will also be considered for inclusion in general issues of the journal.
Deadline for submission: May 1, 2021. Address inquiries to Isabelle.Meuret@ulb.be.
Call for Papers and Guidelines for Contributors
Literature and Medicine is a peer-reviewed journal publishing scholarship that explores representational and cultural practices concerning health care and the body. Areas of interest include disease, illness, and health; the cultures of biomedical science and technology and of the clinic; disability; and violence, trauma, and power relations as these are represented and interpreted in broadly defined archives of verbal, visual, and material texts.Literature and Medicine features one thematic and one general issue each year. Past theme issues have explored identity and difference; contagion and infection; cancer pathography; the representations of genomics; and the narration of pain.
Literature and Medicine is published semiannually. Literature and Medicine editors will consider essay clusters devoted to a particular topic or written on a specific occasion. Submissions on any aspect of literature and medicine will be considered, but the journal rarely publishes short notes, personal essays, or creative writing. Authors are advised to look carefully at past issues of the journal (available on the journal website) before submitting their work. Manuscripts should be between 5,000 and 9,000 words in length. Please include an abstract of 100–150 words, and 3–5 keywords. All submissions should have text, end notes, and bibliography double-spaced and prepared according to guidelines in The Chicago Manual of Style, current edition. Authors will be responsible for securing permission to include visual images, figures, or verbal quotations that exceed fair use.
Literature and Medicine is a peer-reviewed journal. Authors’ names should appear only on a cover sheet, and any identifiers in the text should be masked so manuscripts can be reviewed anonymously. Literature and Medicine reviews only unpublished manuscripts that are not simultaneously under review for publication elsewhere.
Manuscripts must be submitted in digital form (.doc, .docx, or .rtf) through our website: https://lit-med.scholasticahq.com.
Correspondence should be sent to: Isabelle.Meuret@ulb.be.
(posted 3 November 2020)
Beyond Borders: Mapping Sexualities and the Sexualisation of Spaces
Université Jean Moulin Lyon 3, France, 6-7 May 2021
Deadline for proposals: 2 November 2020
Institut d’Études Transtextuelles et Transculturelles (IETT), Université Jean Moulin Lyon 3
This conference will examine the relationship between the notions of boundaries and sexuality from an interdisciplinary, transnational and transcultural perspective. In particular, it aims to map the ways in which space determines sexualities and sexual practices, and to understand, in turn, how sex structures and limits the spaces in which we live, and how we relate to them.
At a time when walls and barriers are being erected around the globe with the stated goal of containing and separating populations, it seems urgent to question how these boundaries, whether physical or symbolic, political or social, condition sexual practices and shape representations of sexuality. Conversely, the crossing of these limits, while often allowing people to free themselves from certain limitations (discrimination, persecution, surveillance, etc.) by finding shelter elsewhere, is also sometimes motivated by the desire to break laws prohibiting the commodification of bodies and sexual exploitation, at a time when an ever-increasing number of people, whether tourists, migrants, loiterers, or workers cross the borders and frontiers that delimit public places and international space every day. Whether opened or closed, crossed or respected, borders define not only a geographical space or a cultural community, but also the laws and norms that regulate practices and gender identities that are considered legal or legitimate on a given territory.
Borders and boundaries define otherness, distinguishing between the “We” and the “Non-We” (Clifford Geertz, The Anthropologist as Author, 1988). Thus, they identify the foreigner, i.e. the migrant, the non-citizen. They also define the barbarian, the one who penetrates, with their difference, and all the dangers and stigmas associated with such a status (diseases, perversions, etc.). Borders determine our practices; they distinguish between “here” and “there” and limit the domain of the possible. Yet, it is often this dichotomy between what is “impossible here” and what is “possible elsewhere” (abortion, prostitution, medically assisted reproduction, etc.) that leads people to cross borders for sex-related motives.
For Michel Foucault, sexuality is particularly conducive to the creation of “heterotopias”, those spaces devoted to particular functions, those “nowhere” places that structure urban territories: brothels, red-light districts and strip bars map out an urban geography traditionally associated with debauchery and vice, opposed to middle-class residential suburbs or bourgeois town centers where moral order, family ideology and procreative sexuality are supposed to be norm. Conversely, peripheries are often stigmatized as places where homophobia prevails as opposed to progressive urban centers where sexuality can be freely expressed (e.g. gay neighborhoods in large cities). This raises the question of public policies on the matter: equating with intimacy and privacy leads to the erasure of the porous boundary between public and private space. The private sphere, like the public sphere, is governed by laws and injunctions that erase the boundary between the two, just as the development of the Internet has somewhat contributed to abolishing the boundary between what is hidden and what is seen or shown (dating websites, pornographic websites, online prostitution, etc.).
Art history, literary analysis, sociological investigation, historical archives, gender studies, philosophy, anthropology, migration history and urban planning are all disciplines and methodologies that will help us answer the following questions: what happens when sexuality moves, when sexual practices take place across borders? What happens to sexual norms and practices in the context of the globalization of trade, the development of the Internet, and sometimes disputed international law? How are sexuality and its representations affected by the increasing mobility of individuals, whether forced or recreational? Does crossing a border necessarily imply transgression or transformation? What are the reasons why individuals cross a border, go elsewhere, because of their sexuality?
Among the possible avenues for reflection, we will consider papers that fall under the following themes:
1/ Sexuality, globalization and transnational migration
– When sexual issues push people to cross a border: fleeing sexual repression in one’s country of origin; sex trafficking and sex used as currency to pay for migration; crossing the border to obtain an abortion, reproductive assistance, contraception or sexual reassignment;
– Weakening borders and sexuality: globalization and the standardization of sexual behaviors; STD epidemics linked to migratory phenomena, public health discourse and investigations into import pathologies; pornography in the age of the Internet;
– Attractiveness of sexuality from elsewhere: Sexual and matrimonial tourism; binational couples; sham marriages; sexual abuse from foreign workers assisting local populations (humanitarians, missionaries, etc.); occasional return to the country of origin in the case of genital mutilation.
2/ Sexualities, regional spaces and national migration
– Changing space to fully embrace one’s sexual identity: moving from a rural to an urban space, from a small town to a big city, from the provinces to the capital for LGBTQI+ people for instance;
– Borders and prohibitions: “prohibited” relationships in specific regions of a given country for racial, religious, cultural reasons (anti-miscegenation laws in the South of the US, etc.); sexual practices accepted only within a prescribed group but condemned from the outside (polygamy among Mormons, etc.).
3/ Sexualities, local migration and urban space
– Urban organization and spaces assigned to sexuality: gay neighborhoods, red-light districts, mapping of prostitution in each city; spaces reserved for marginality (SM or swingers’ clubs, brothels, woods reserved for prostitution; bourgeois neighborhoods as a framework for acceptable, normative, reproductive sexuality; spaces reserved for infidelity (Michel Foucault and American motels as heterotopias for example).
4/ Mental frontiers: here and elsewhere, exoticism, orientalism, idealization, stereotypes and projections
– The figure of the foreigner as an object of fascination and attraction; representation of the foreigner as importing diseases, threatening integrity and embodying sexual danger (rapist, pedophile, etc.);
– Remaining within one’s group for an acceptable sexuality: meeting spaces set up within a given social, cultural, or religious group, such as fraternities, ballrooms and voguing, etc.
– National identity and the “exoticisation” of homophobia: strategic opposition between sexual progressivism in Western nations and urban centers, and “barbaric archaism” on the matter in Southern nations and suburban areas (Jasbir K. Puar, Homonationalism in Queer Times, 2007)
Papers may be written in English or French. Proposals (around 300 words) accompanied by a short biography should be sent before November 2, 2020 to the two organizers: Pierre-Antoine Pellerin (pierre-antoine.pellerin@univ-
Scientific committee: Sophie Coavoux (Lyon 3), Sibylle Goepper (Lyon 3), Georges-Claude Guilbert (Le Havre), Gregory Lee (Lyon 3), Hélène Quanquin (Lille 3), Corrado Neri (Lyon 3), Christabelle Sethna (Ottawa)
(posted 20 July 2020)
Hells and Heavens of Early Modern England: 31st SEDERI International Conference
La Laguna (Tenerife, Spain), 12–14 May, 2021 (online)
Deadline for proposals: 15 January 2021
We are pleased to announce that the 31st SEDERI (Spanish and Portuguese Society for English Renaissance Studies) Conference will be held ONLINE in La Laguna (Tenerife, Spain), on 12-14 May 2021. The Conference theme—Hells and Heavens of Early Modern England—draws on the ambivalent connotations of our venue in Renaissance England: Tenerife, considered the most blessed of the Fortunate Islands, but also the one of the awesome, “heaven-daring” peak. Thus, we expect to re-examine all possible literal and figural representations of hells and heavens, from places to states, including conditions of supreme suffering or bliss. Moreover, the Conference also aims at scrutinising divides and liminal sites in which antithetical agents associated with decadence and innovation emerged, coexisted, collided, overlapped, blended and reshaped transformative factors in early modern English society, its language, literature and culture.
We welcome proposals for 20-minute papers and round tables (in English) on the following and related topics:
- Representations of sites, transitions and states of evil, expiation and bliss
- Textual and graphic depictions of in/visible entities and worlds
- De-/Regeneration and innovation of language, poetics, and culture
- New learning, theologies and alternative beliefs, mythographies, epistemologies, and political doctrines
- Shifting ethical values and moral dilemmas. Genesis of and resistance to ambition, disobedience, pride, crime, injustice, betrayal, and violence
- Bodily adventures. Trans/gendered and transgressive bodies. Encountering otherness, deviancy, abjection, and monstrosity
- Physical/spiritual medicines, remedies, consolations, and healings
- Renaissance ecologies and pre-industrial environmental degradation
- Lights and shadows of diplomacy (esp. Anglo-Iberian relationships)
- Wheels of wealth and wreck. Economy, business, and trade
- Un-/Fortunate travellers, displaced, exiles, pilgrims, and intercultural dialogues
- Laughter, subversion and the grotesque
- Damnation/redemption of words (censorship, lost texts, libraries, archives, dictionaries, anthologies, translations, data-bases, digital resources, intermediality and transmediality, transmission of texts, and editing)
Proposals must be sent as an e-mail attachment (preferably, doc or docx) to email@example.com before 15 January 2021, and must contain the following information:
- The full title of your paper
- A 200-word abstract
- Your name and institutional affiliation
- ID-card / passport number
- Your postal and e-mail addresses
- Your SEDERI membership status (member, non-member, application submitted)
- A short biographical note (100 words)
Confirmed Plenary Speakers
- Nandini Das (University of Oxford)
- Tanya Pollard (City University of New York, CUNY)
Conference website: http://eventos.ull.es/go/sederi2021
SEDERI Website: http://www.sederi.org/
(posted 18 December 2020)
Literary [Non-]Fiction in Times of Crisis
Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan, Poland, 13-15 May 2021
Deadline for proposals: 28 February 2021
CRISIS: “a time of great danger, difficulty, or confusion when problems must be solved< >or important decisions must be made” (OED)
The fall of the Berlin Wall; refugee movements across Europe; Brexit; political populism; divided societies in Europe and USA; or the pandemic of Covid-19 – it is almost unlikely to formulate a complete list of crises that have emerged in recent times. The notion of crisis, however, is by no means confined to the socio-political realm and its grand narratives/grand challenges. Personal, religious and identity crises seem idiosyncratic in essence, but are in reality experiences shared collectively by different cultures and generations. The idea that crises are not only destructive or arresting, but rather necessary for progress and/or self-development is communicated not only by means of historical accounts or political analyses, but also via personal life reviews as well as fictional, literary works. Literary [non-]fiction is, after all, the most multi-faceted medium of communication. Many times the individual’s need for literary (self-)expression is driven by the need to make sense of the surrounding reality [also by highlighting different versions of reality] and contextualize one’s personal, socio-political or environmental crisis. Facing a political/cultural/social/religious predicament, authors are often driven by an imperative to voice their disagreement over transgressions/half-truths/ lies/manipulations, which eventually makes one unable to turn away from the presumed obligation to right a wrong. This is why Nadine Gordimer once said that writing about ‘public policies’ [sensu largo], particularly if their impact on the social fabric is negative, corresponds to writing about morality.
Department of English Literature and Literary Linguistics is pleased to announce its conference, “Literary [Non-]Fiction in Times of Crisis”, to be held online at Adam Mickiewicz University from the 13th May to the 15th May 2021. The conference’s objective is to explore both writerly and non-writerly involvement, analyses and suggestions regarding descriptions of and possible solutions to the ills of a given society/community/individual and collective mindsets. Our intention is to set up an interdisciplinary dialogic space for academics interested in restoring the strength of referentiality in [non-]fiction writing, with the overall aim to make textual reality relevant again. Our invitation is addressed to researchers from various fields of scholarly investigation, including literary studies, culture studies, film studies, identity studies and other interdisciplinary studies.
Suggested topics include but are not restricted to:
SECTION I : Socio-Political crisis in texts
Session Chairs: prof. dr hab. Liliana Sikorska [firstname.lastname@example.org]; prof. UAM dr hab. Ryszard Bartnik [email@example.com]
- Black Lives Matter
- Wars [culture wars/terrorist extremism]
- Arab Spring [and other ‘revolutions’]
- Minority and human rights
- Political transitions of divided societies
SECTION II: Psychological crisis in texts
Session Chairs: dr Katarzyna Bronk-Bacon [firstname.lastname@example.org]; prof. UAM dr hab. Dominika Buchowska-Greaves [email@example.com]
- Narration and representation of personal or collective trauma
- Crisis of identity and belonging
- Rites of passage in human life [motherhood/fatherhood; middle age/old age, crisis of faith]
- Sexual/gender assault/abuse/asymmetry
SECTION III: Environmental crisis in texts [Ecocriticism]
Session Chairs: dr Jeremy Pomeroy [firstname.lastname@example.org], dr Jacek Olesiejko [email@example.com]
- The crisis of Anthropocene
- Climate change
- Pan- and epidemics
SECTION IV: ‘Institutional’ crisis in texts
Session Chairs: dr Marta Frątczak-Dąbrowska [firstname.lastname@example.org], dr Joanna Jarząb-Napierała [email@example.com]
- Crisis of democracy
- Crisis of neoliberalism
- The [re]birth of populism
- Crisis of the state [Truth/Trust/Rule of law]
Authors are encouraged to prepare 20 minute presentations in English. Abstracts of around 300-500 words should be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org by the 28th February 2021 [in the event of any technical problems use the alternative email address email@example.com]. In addition, we would like to inform about that the Department of English Literature and Literary Linguistics is planning to launch, presumably in 2022, a post-conference publication, in cooperation with Wydawnictwo Naukowe UAM. The full-length papers to be considered for this volume shall be peer-reviewed and must not be under consideration by any other journal or publication.
(posted 18 December 2020)
Representing Catastrophe in Contemporary Arts and Letters: Conceptual and Formal Reevaluation
Université Jean Monnet, Saint-Étienne, France, 18-19 May 2021
Deadline for proposals: 4 January 2021
Organized by ECLLA (Études du Contemporain en Littératures, Langues et Arts)
9/11 marked, in a spectacular way, the entry into the 21st century, inaugurating “the eruption of the possible into the impossible.” (Jean-Pierre Dupuy, Pour un catastrophisme éclairé) Since then, the rise of declinist theses or collapse theories has generated a proliferation of discourses and images which predict the end of our civilization, anticipate the modalities of its disappearance, and urge us to think about the notion of catastrophe along new lines. Indeed, it seems the time for conjecture or forecast is over as catastrophist discourses – in science, in the media or in politics – alert us to the multiplication of catastrophes, thereby inviting us to reexamine a notion which, until recently, was characterized by its unique, unprecedented, and unpredictable nature. The evolution of its meaning is definitely under way since ‘catastrophe’ is now seen less as a dénouement or an endpoint than as a series of phenomena which, repeatedly surging in our daily lives, place it in a state of permanent topicality. Paul Virilio noted that a society which privileges “the present – real time” and “sets immediacy, ubiquity and instantaneity to work, brings accidents and catastrophes on to the scene.” (Paul Virilio, The Original Accident)
Used in the singular, catastrophe encompasses a plurality of phenomena which may or may not be attributable to humans, including natural disasters, nuclear accidents, terrorist attacks, or even pandemics. It does not refer to “a single event, but a system of discontinuities, of critical threshold crossings, of ruptures, of radical structural changes.” (Dupuy) Indeed, catastrophe is not so much regarded as an outcome or a prospect as a state of permanent alert and vigilance with regard to phenomena that are already under way. If its iteration transforms hazard into certainty, it is also because the border between the natural and the cultural, established by Western modernity, has been dissipating, more particularly since the term Anthropocene (Paul J. Crutzen) was coined within the Earth sciences to describe this pivotal moment when human beings, by their actions, have become the main generators of disasters, at the risk of eliminating the role of contingency. In turn, arts and letters are exploring the conceptual, ethical, and practical issues raised by this “great acceleration” (John R. McNeill, The Great Acceleration), and in doing so, are encouraging a re-articulation of our relation to time, space, images, and narratives.
Catastrophe seems to be the object of a renewed desire today (Henri-Pierre Jeudy, Le Désir de catastrophe). We will therefore interrogate what is at stake in the very use of the term and how contemporary artistic practices appropriate it for reflections on catastrophe as well as through catastrophe.
Be it the continuing success of disaster movies or the growing number of “ecodystopic fictions” (Frederick Buell, From Apocalypse to Way of Life), the imaginaries of catastrophe seem to be proliferating, notably in the fiction industry. Quite often, they draw on a familiar dramaturgy which takes the catastrophic event as a pretext for the unfolding of a story hinging on a causal, before/after logic. How can a work of art, whatever its medium, circumvent and/or counter such dramaturgy? How to envision art not merely as translating catastrophe but as performing it? As a disruption which, however briefly, defeats intelligibility, catastrophe prompts us – compels us even – to reexamine the ways in which we apprehend the world. Beyond the topoï of the unspeakable and irrepresentable, the etymology of the term refers to morphological changes. Understood thus, catastrophe may be regarded as generating aesthetic potentialities, which can lead us to ponder the specificities of its poïetics.
Restoring the emotional and sensory charge of catastrophe, its power of stupefaction may be all the more pressing as its proliferating imaginaries seem to have resulted in a certain uniformization. The ubiquity of catastrophes is partly related to the omnipresence of images, pictures taken by witnesses and circulated on social media with increasing speed. The multiplication of possible points of view, however, seems to falter over the codes of the spectacular which give some images their iconic value – Dantesque visions of megafires, scenes of desolation after tsunamis, hurricanes, or explosions. Social media experts have tried to create “disaster emojis” (emerjis), the closest thing to a global language in their view. Underlying the project is an effort towards standardization, a desire to break down linguistic barriers in the name of communicative efficiency, both of which renew the old rivalry between text and images described by W.J.T. Mitchell as “a war of signs.” (Iconology) More broadly, intermedial studies, notably the reevaluation of the notion of remediation introduced by Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin in 1999, offer a lens through which the issues raised by the representation of catastrophe can be productively studied.
Reassessing the relation between catastrophe and the spectacular may also lead to reconsideration of the former’s relation to place. The importance given to ruins and memorials testifies to the intertwining of time and space, both subject to the same disruption of the sense of place. One may think of the Ground Zero Sonic Memorial Soundwalk narrated by Paul Auster. Interactive multimedia projects like this one extend the experience of catastrophe to those who were neither witnesses nor victims. One may wonder whether they participate in the monumentalizing of place: the circumscribing of a sense of place in an effort to palliate or counter the overflowing nature of the catastrophic event. The disrupting of the way we inhabit space suggests another line of enquiry. The precariousness common to the human species and all other living beings indeed raises issues relating to practices of inhabiting, and more fundamentally to habitability itself. This, in turn, calls attention to the conceptual and aesthetic approaches contemporary artists have devised to reflect those issues and reflect on them.
We are inviting papers on 21st century artistic practices. Proposals may address but are not limited to the following:
- narratives of catastrophe (cinema, TV shows, literature): criticism and reevaluation of its dramaturgy and storytelling
- the work of art as catastrophe: practices and reception
- the scenography of catastrophe in photography and in the visual arts
- media coverage and mediation of catastrophe
- representing and reclaiming places of catastrophe (wastelands, ruins …)
- the relations between the arts and scientific discourse
- the language of catastrophe (linguistic evolutions and lexical creations …)
Proposals (400-word abstract + short bio) should be sent before 4 January 2021 to the organizers: Sophie Chapuis (firstname.lastname@example.org), Anne-Sophie Letessier (email@example.com), Aliette Ventéjoux (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Notification of acceptance by 29 January 2021.
Papers (presented in French or in English) should not exceed 20 min.
Given the current climate of uncertainty, we will arrange for videoconferencing if the need arises.
(posted 12 October 2020)