CFP: MIDDLE FLIGHT (2319-7684) (Print)
A UGC Approved Peer Reviewed Journal of English Literature and Culture
Vol. 7 2018 Issue 1
Writing women, writing gender
‘Essentialism’ and the ‘female phase’ being over, Gender studies is now reposed in ‘constructionist’ view looking askance towards such aspects as ‘conditioning’ , ‘socialization’ , (mis)representation of women in cultural texts and lack-isms (e.g. “The female is a female by virtue of a certain lack of qualities ”). The question of ‘othering’ of women has meaningfully been countered by Beauvoir. In the 1980s Gender studies became more ‘eclectic’ (Barry) drawing upon such theories as Marxism, Structuralism and Linguistics. Gradually Gender studies moved towards theory, taking its starting point the insights of Lacan, Foucault and Derrida. (Barry) Such aspects as language, literary representation, identity, psychoanalysis, supposed neutrality of mainstream interpretations etc. began to be explored with assiduity.
Strongly multidisciplinary in approach and more a part of culture studies than of literature, Lesbian/Gay studies – emerging in the 1980s as a kind of annex of feminist criticism and relying much upon the Post-structuralist tendency of ‘deconstructing’ binary opposition [e.g. hetero/homo, inside/outside , gay/straight (anti-gay), self/other etc.] – began to assume disciplinary independence by 1990s. It purported to establish the centrality of gender as a fundamental category of historical analysis and understanding. However, academic feminism believed in an essential female identity and tended to universalize the experience of white, middle class, urban heterosexual women. This created rift within feminism that resulted in its branching into two strands - Lesbian feminism and Queer theory.
Lesbianism began to claim its centrality in Gender studies since it radically turned away from various forms of collusion with the patriarchal exploitation. It is Adriene Rich who in her essay ‘Compulsory heterosexuality and lesbian existence’ introduced the sanitizing term ‘lesbian continuum’ that purported to bridge the gap between the heterosexual feminists and the lesbians. By laying stress to help networks set up by women, supportive female friendship, ‘interconnections’, ‘bonding’ (Zimmerman) etc., Lesbianism almost ‘de-sexualized’ (Paulina Palmer) itself. Nevertheless, Lesbianism condemned female heterosexuality as a betrayal of women and their interests. It preached that women can achieve integrity only through lesbianism.
In 1990s Queer studies – ‘Queer’ being a term increasingly used by gays in spite of the homophobic origins of the word – emerged as a second , less essentialist notion of lesbian feminism. This kind of lesbianism – termed ‘libertarian lesbianism’ (Paulina Palmer) – breaks away from ‘woman-centred’ lesbian feminism and makes new allegiances with gay men rather than with other women. What matters most in Queer studies is not ‘gender’ but different forms of ‘sexuality’. Taking clues from Judith Butler (who stripped lesbianism of any ‘stable’ and ‘essential’ identity) and from Eve Sedgwick (who speaks highly of ‘fluidity’ of sexual identity) , Queer studies blurred the binary opposition between ‘hetero’ and ‘homo’.
Any emancipation movement must not lose sight of the Promised Land – which is, in this case, to ‘influence’ the everyday conducts, attitudes and the zeitgeist irrespective of culture and academic discipline. Despite signs of changes across the globe, Gender studies caravan is still to go miles. In India conferences and workshops are organised to deliberate and explore alternatives for improving public infrastructure systems to reduce the opportunity aspect of crimes against women. The role of the civil society, and particularly the media, becomes vital in ensuring due process works while encouraging greater public awareness in protecting the agency of women’s freedom.
On the whole, gender is not only a problem with women, but a big question of identity for the humankind at large. Even today a genuine victim of sexual abuse is dubbed as a woman of ‘loose character’ and “women are exhorted to be women, remain women and become women” (Beauvoir). A victim of domestic violence is required to compromise for the integrity of the family. Rape, molestation, selective infanticide, female genital mutilation are just some of the aspects people have learnt to live with. The Third Gender people suffer all kinds of social persecution, humiliation, stigma and ‘othering’. People with so-called ‘different’ gender-orientations are either victimised, or pitied by the so-called normative majority. Ours is a time to think, to feel and to look for ways that may hope to bring changes to the present polemics of the terrible question of ‘Gender’. The seventh volume of Middle Flight purports to join the discussion on such a ‘glocal’ issue of utmost importance. Since ours is a journal of English literature and culture we can choose but invite articles having underpinnings in literature – preferably literature in English. The areas which might be touched upon in this volume are as follows -
- Women’s writing: the personal and the public
- Men writing on women
- Lesbian / Gay studies
- Queer studies
- ‘Tritiya Prakriti’ or ‘Third gender’
- Literary texts questioning gender stereotypes
- Importance of bridging gaps between academia and practice
- Women’s movements: historical and theoretical approaches
- Dalit feminism
- Gender and performativity
- Women in Classical literatures: in ancient India and Europe
- Language and gender
- Gender and profession
- Representation of Gender in art, culture and the visual media
Articles on related ancillary topics are also welcome.
- Send your paper in two word-documents (MS 2007) –
· Word-doc. No.01: Abstract, Keywords and the paper written in English language only
· Word-doc. No.02 : Brief bio-note containing your name and designation (verifiable from your institutional website), complete mailing address, institutional address (with website details), Research area/Specialization (if any), mail-id, contact details and a duly signed declaration that yours is an original work and has not been sent anywhere else in part or full for publication.
- Paper size: A4; Font type & font size: Times New Roman, 12; Spacing: 1.5; Margin: 1 inch on all four sides.
- Documentation: Authors are to follow the Seventh Edition of MLA handbook. This is important in view of the fact that many of the papers are rejected on grounds of poor documentation. A paper without a duly prepared works-cited list will not be accepted. Don’t use Footnotes. Use Endnotes, if required.
- Word – range: 3000- 5000 words (including Works Cited List)
- It is imperative that authors follow strict ethics of writing papers and duly acknowledge borrowings in any form.
- Rejected papers won’t be sent back to the contributor. Only the message of rejection will be communicated through mail and it is not obligatory for the editors to send any detailed review report. The editors reserve the right to introduce any type of change in an accepted paper/reject any paper if it is not in harmony with the requirements of our journal.
- Send (electronic version only) to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than 15 th September 2018.
- Papers submitted for publication are subject to Copyright Act. The paper contributors are to bear the consequences of violation of this act.
Professor Sanjukta Dasgupta
Convenor, English Advisory Board, Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi
Visiting Professor, Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland
Professor, Dept of English (Retd) & Former Dean (Arts), Calcutta University
has kindly agreed to guest edit the current volume.
Middle Flight (ISSN 2319-7684) (Print)
A UGC Approved Peer Reviewed Journal of English Literature and Culture