White Ink, Red Flag: Expressing Maternity in Eastern European Culture
The AHRC-funded Slavic and East European Maternal Studies Research Network (SEEMS) will host a one-day symposium on July 9th, 2022 in Exeter, UK at the historic Devon and Exeter Institution, Cathedral Green, Exeter. The symposium will explore maternal creativity and depictions of motherhood in Slavic and Eastern European cultures. The organizers (Professor Muireann Maguire, University of Exeter and Dr Eglė Kačkutė, University of Vilnius) welcome papers from a range of disciplines, including literature, art, cinema, and comparative cultural studies.
‘[A] woman is never far from “mother” […] There is always within her at least a little of that good mother’s milk. She writes in white ink,” wrote Hélène Cixous in her influential 1975 essay, ‘The Laugh of the Medusa’. The SEEMS research network aims to encourage and integrate scholarship from the field of Slavic and Eastern European Studies with the wider discipline of Motherhood Studies; for this symposium, we invite research on literary and cultural expressions of motherhood and parenting in the Eastern European sphere, the ‘white ink’ that was hidden for decades behind the ‘red flag’ of socialist politics and internal censorship.
Potential topics include, but are not limited to, the following:
• Maternal fictions: literature by and/or about mothers and maternal
• Parental fictions: wider explorations of parenthood, including adoption and
• Maternal physicality: menstruation, pregnancy, fertility treatments,
childbirth and menopause
• Re-imagining maternity in the twenty-first century
• Loss and bereavement: infertility, baby loss, stillbirth, and abortion
• The symbolism of motherhood: breastfeeding and nurture in literature and art
• Motherhood as ideology or resistance: How does motherhood, as a cultural
phenomenon, interact with politics?
• Translation and motherhood: the promotion and reception of texts about
motherhood in different languages
Papers are invited on any of the above topics, within Slavic and Eastern European and/or comparative cultural contexts. Proposals pitched from a comparative perspective, contrasting Slavic and Eastern European texts and authors to maternal fictions and maternal texts from other languages, are particularly welcome. Please send proposals of up to 300 words to SEEMSmaternal@exeter.ac.uk by April 29th, 2022. A limited number of travel bursaries of up to £300 to offset travel and/or accommodation costs are available for overseas speakers and/or early career researchers; please include a CV with your proposal if you would like to be considered for financial assistance.