Queer and feminist relationships in contemporary fiction of romance cultures (Vienne, Autriche)
Over the past decade patriarchal structures – particularly in literature, film and research – have been widely exposed and criticized. Nevertheless, they still exist and along with them a normative view on relationship structures based on the model of cisgender, heterosexual, white, bourgeois and abled family institutionally secured by marriage (Bard Wigdor 2018). Although many other ways of communitarization have gained popularity within contemporary fiction, this model remains dominant. However, this is by no means the only relationship creating social differences: Biased canons and literary industries with their specific hierarchical networks and intertextual and intermedial relations are more valued if adapted to present-day hegemony (Brey 2020: 14); henceforth contributing to sustain the patriarchal system. The same can be observed from competition juries for literary (Ducas 2013) or cinematographic (Collectif 50/50 2019) prizes as well as in research practices (Ahmed 2017). Despite these broad fraternal structures supporting authors of the cultural center, they tend to heroize themselves or to be heroized as geniuses who create their works out of nothing and without external help. These hegemonic relationships have an exclusive character, they position queer and/or feminist authors and directors by portraying them as rare and exceptional figures on the margins of these communities or by not giving them attention at all, devaluating and invisibilizing in this way their work (Finke 2018: 84; Lasserre 2010, Russ 2018). This dynamic is even more striking when dealing with the intersection of several oppressions, such as cultural productions related to crip movements (McRuer 2006, Puiseux 2022), or impacted by North-South dynamics (Moraga 2021: xvi).
Since the 2000s, many diverse collective queer and feminist initiatives have been founded in order to provide a counterpoint to this situation. This gave way to the development of more specific alternative forms of relations and relationships. Also, following the uprising of digital movements and campaigns such as #MeToo, #Balancetonporc, #Niunamenos, #MeuAmigoSecreto, #RopaSucia, #SinMujeresNoHayLibertad, #YaEsHora and the implementation of a new protest culture multiplying demonstrations, marches and flashmobs in the public space (Un violador en tu camino by LasTesis; Canción sin miedo by Vivir Quintana), a new level of connectedness, communitarization and solidarity has been achieved (Bréda 2023; Russo Garrido 2020). This transformation is also perceptible withing artistic fields: Numerous queer and feminist publishing houses (e.g. Escafandra ediciones, Amor de Madre, Editorial Egales, Editions Blast), film companies (e.g. Cimarrón Producciones, SISTER Productions) and distribution systems have emerged in the last years; crowdfunding of art projects has made evading institutional discrimination possible; and numerous new blogs, podcasts and databases (such as Cine y Mujer, HablemosEscritoras and Ingrávida) take queer or feminist authors/directors into account, make them visible to the public eye and bring them into contact with each other. Production processes have also changed: Collective creation (co-authoring projects such as Morgana by Michela Murgia and Chiara Tagliaferri or L’Évaporée by Fanny Chiarello and Wendy Delorme; collectives Auch+, Mujeres Audiovisuales, MujeresAlBorde, Mujeres Creando, RER Q; creational workshops like Disoluta; concepts like the concept of disappropriation by Rivera Garza) are seen by many as a counter-model to the genialistic-individualistic concepts of authorship. In addition, the importance of negotiating a relationship within texts and film is particularly striking: Currently, there are many works of fiction that specifically focus on social togetherness within queer and/or feminist communities (Portrait de la jeune fille en feu by Céline Sciamma, Três Tigres Tristes by Gustavo Vinagre, El Niño Pez by Lucía Puenzo, Las Malas by Camila Sosa Villada, Mignonnes by Maïmouna Doucouré), negotiating their specificity and utopian potential. Genres that are predestined for the thematization of social alternatives (like science fiction or fantasy) are abound (Larue 2018, Berthier 2022). Queer and/or feminist authors refer to each other in their texts and films, knitting a close network of intertextual references in which they express solidarity for one another and create new ways of reading and watching their work.
Even though the construct of a relationship plays such an important role in contemporary queer and feminist literature and film and its reception, it is only taken into account in a limited form to this day (Showalter 1979: 35, Planté 1985). Queer and/or feminist networks (Picco 2013), genealogies (Alfonsi 2019, Buenahora Molina 2016), kinships (Smith 1983, Bradway & Freeman 2022), friendships (Guerra Palmero 2009) or constellations (Turbiau et al. 2022), and their contributions, are too rarely brought to light and studied. We therefore propose to study the modalities of – friendly, amorous, sexual, political, militant, artistic – queer and feminist relationships within and around cinema and literature in Romance cultures in the 21st century. Based on the perspective of literary studies, film studies and the general sociology of literature and film we aim to provide insight into the following axes:
- authorship and engagement: How do queer individuals and/or women put themselves in relation to others in the literary or cinematographic field? Are there specific “strategies” to getting published and read as a queer/feminist author? Which networks do they rely? In which way and through which media channels do they communicate?
- collective creation: Which concepts exist to think and practice authorship as a collective process? Why and how do queer/feminist individuals decide to join forces? How do they work? What changes have they managed to achieve? Do we create differently when we work with our peers? What novelties and formal inventions emerge? Do independent structures, such as publishers, contribute in reshaping the literary landscape, both in its patriarchal and capitalist structures and in the works offered?
- queer/feminist relations in fiction: How do queer and/or feminist works propose new ways of making community? How are such relationships imaginable within a heteropatriarchal world? Which modes of narration or genres are preferentially chosen for negotiating these new networks? From an intersectional perspective, which other categories of marginalized people (e.g. BIPOC and/or disabled people) are integrated in those relationships and communities or exluded from it?
- intertextuality and intermediality: What links can be found between queer and feminist authors in contemporary productions? Which heritages do writ-ers and directors seize? In which symbolic filiation are they inscribed? Do queer/feminist counter-canons exist? Should we refrain from replacing old canons with new ones
- reception: How do queer and/or feminist authors communicate with their readers and viewers? Why and how do certain works achieve cult status within queer and feminist communities, thereby participating in the alliance of these communities? To what extent does the public contribute to works being considered as queer and/or feminist?
Proposals for papers in English, of a maximum length of 500 words and accompanied by a short bio-bibliography, should be sent to the following addresses before 31.03.2023: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.Those whose papers have been accepted will be notified around 15th april 2023.
The international conference will take place at the University of Vienna from 25th to 27th October 2023. Travelling and accommodation costs will be taken in charge. A publication of selected papers is planned.
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