CFP: Women’s Friendships in 20th– and 21st-century Literature and Culture
We are seeking one additional paper for a proposed panel on cultural portrayals of women’s friendship for the SSAWW Conference in Denver, CO November 7-11, 2018.
While much scholarship on women’s literature has addressed motherhood and sexual relationships, less has focused on women’s friendships. Friendship itself has been under-theorized and narratives of women’s friendships often repeat static tropes. They are romanticized as sources of always-available support, minimized as precursors to the ultimate fulfillment of heterosexual marriage, and demonized as facades masking envy and competition. Systemic patriarchal structures impede and restrict women’s friendships. The panel will explore cultural portrayals of women’s friendship in fiction, memoir, women’s life writing, nonfiction, and poetry and seeks to address the complexities of how 20th and 21st century cultural texts construe women’s friendships.
We seek papers that disrupt or write in opposition to patriarchal heteronormative tropes of women’s friendships extant in contemporary American literature and culture. Such tropes include the Marriage plot, Boston marriages, and black women’s salons during the Harlem Renaissance. We pose the following question: What does women’s friendship look like beyond the gaze and imagination of this patriarchal heterosexist metanarrative?
· Possible topics include but are not limited to
· Friendships across differences of race, class, age, or politics
· Power dynamics in women’s friendships
· Friendship and adolescent identity formation
· Adult women’s friendships
· Envy and competition in women’s friendships
· Friendships at work
· Friendships formed through political activism
· The role of friendship in coming-of-age stories
· Friendship as acts of resistance
· Friendships arising out of shared political commitment
· The failure of the racial ally as a model of female friendship
· How women interpret and relate to each other’s bodies