Exeter Conference: White Ink, Red Flag

White Ink, Red Flag: Expressing Maternity in Eastern European Culture

On July 9th 2022, 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, for invited UK and international scholars to assess the initial research findings of the network and fine-tune some of its ideas for publication.

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 invited researchers from across the Uk and Europe to address us 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.

Paper topics include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Maternal fictions: literature by and/or about mothers and maternal experience
  • Parental fictions: wider explorations of parenthood, including adoption and LGBTQ parenting
  • Maternal physicality: menstruation, pregnancy, fertility treatments, surrogacy, 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

See Draft White Ink programme for more details.

The Devon and Exeter Institution seen from Cathedral Green

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