Points of Exit: Gothic Escapes? (CFP)

Posted by Dale Townshend on September 25, 2008 in News tagged with

CALL FOR PAPERS Points of Exit: Gothic Escapes?

On Thursday, March 19, and Friday, March 20, 2009, the Centre for Gender and Diversity,
Maastricht University, the Netherlands, will mark its ten-year anniversary with a conference
entitled Points of Exit: (Un)conventional Representations of Age, Parenting, and Sexuality.
The conference aims to examine the potential deconstruction of conventional scripts of age,
parenting, and sexuality.

For one of the panels, entitled Gothic Escapes?, we invite papers that deal with the following

Gothic fictions have been said to challenge dominant discourses ever since the late eighteenth
century. Gothic has been labeled as unconventional or plainly deviant, as dangerous or as
utopian, as transformative or transgressive. Whether gothic transgressions are perceived as
threatening or as empowering, is likely to depend on your political position.
However, Chris Baldick & Robert Mighall (2000), among others, have argued that the gothic
is conservative rather than progressive. Especially on the issue of female gothic, opinions
have been strongly divided. While some feminists declared female gothic a progressive form,
others have maintained that gothic plots are even reactionary for women. Can gothic fictions –
famous for their featuring of confining spaces such as prisons, dungeons, coffins and
labyrinths – provide a point of exit of narrative confinement? Do gothic fictions offer a
possible escape from conventional representations of, for example, gender, sexuality, family
relations or age?

This panel seeks to revisit the question if and how gothic fictions offer a way out from
restricting narrative conventions. Can we evaluate this cultural strategy that we call Gothic
politically, or does escape mean escapism? Does unconventionality immediately lead to
monstrosity, or are there other options? Is it true that psycho-analytical perspectives favour
the gothic as transgressive, while more historical/materialist analyses see gothic as more
conservative? After the many discussions on female gothic, is there still a productive way of
connecting gothic to feminism, and how should we evaluate the ways feminism has
appropriated the gothic?

Papers are welcomed on topics from different periods, and different narrative art forms. They
may either offer a close reading of a particular work, or a more theoretical contribution on the
issue of the political evaluation of the gothic mode and the narrative possibilities of this
persistent cultural strategy.

Send in a 500-word abstract and a short bio to info-gender@cgd.unimaas.nl (subject heading:
“Gothic Escapes?”) before November 1, 2008.

We aim at publishing a selection of conference papers in a special issue of a peer-reviewed

For further information on the Points of Exit conference, see: www.genderdiversiteit.nl/pointsofexit/
With any questions regarding this session, you may contact Agnes Andeweg at a.andeweg@cgd.unimaas.nl

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