Call for submissions to Edited Volume Queer Realms of Memory: Marginal Sexualities and Identities in the French National Narrative.
For decades, the shortcomings of Pierre Nora’s influential seven-volume Les Lieux de mémoire (1984-1992) have only occasionally been brought to light. However, in their recent work Postcolonial Realms of Memory: Sites and Symbols in Modern France (2020), Étienne Achille, Charles Forsdick, and Lydie Moudileno question the “French incapacity and/or unwillingness to engage with the inherent and increasingly undeniable imbrication of the colonial in the roman national [national narrative]” (5-6). In particular, they aim to revise the French national narrative by including lieux de mémoire that are “deemed unworthy of remembrance or simply considered marginal” (2). In Postcolonial Realms of Memory, the authors issue an important corrective to expanding sites of memory to include those of the marginalized sites of memory pertaining to postcolonial history. Our project seeks to continue challenging France’s national narrative by giving space to queer experiences. While Achille, Forsdick, and Moudileno argue that Nora’s shortcomings on postcolonial identities “have been pointed out sporadically over the past two decades” (1), we contend his other omissions (queer and otherwise) have never been pointed out at all. In this edited volume, we aim to understand the specificities of queer remembering in the French national narrative. Specifically, our authors will explore the ways in which queerness—particularly in relation to LGBTQI identities—as well as non-normative sexualities and marginal identities influence remembering as it is constituted in expressions of national belonging, resistance, and resilience.
We understand “memory” and “realms of memory” in the broadest of terms and aim to incorporate diverse forms of representations and “realms” of representation that include among other categories institutions, territories, monuments, people, popular culture, and the everyday and objects. At the same time, we are uncomfortable with the long-accepted terms “lieu” and “realm” as they reify certain canonized kingdoms and empires of memory. As queer people have long been excluded from French and Francophone history, this project will also intentionally conjugate the term “site” as a way to redefine history and memory as a non-teleogical process where LGBTQ cultural representations come into focus across multiple temporalities.
Pierre Nora defines the lieux de mémoire as “At once natural and artificial, simple and ambiguous, concrete and abstract, they are lieux—places, sites, causes—in three senses—material, symbolic and functional” (14). We welcome contributions that will challenge Nora’s examples of lieux—be it the built environment (e.g. the café, La Tour Eiffel, le Panthéon, Collège de France) or the cultural and symbolic (e.g. the French language, gastronomy, wine, songs)—but we are particularly interested in proposals that would expand and challenge such parameters. We invite papers from broad disciplinary perspectives that include but are not limited to literatures of French expression, literary theory, cultural studies, anthropology, sociology, history, gender and postcolonial studies, sexuality studies, translation, and art, including music, dance, film, media studies, and photography. We encourage contributions that investigate queer realms of memory beyond “Hexagonal” France and that adopt a broad chronological scope. Topics include, but are not limited to, the following categories:
- Institutions (political, educational, religious, commercial, etc)
- Territories (Outre-mer, Africa, Paris/Province, etc)
- Historical Narratives (Vichy France, Mai 68, MLF, Mariage pour tous, etc)
- Monuments and Sites (commemorative and cultural lieux, queer community centers, museums, etc)
- Cultural Icons (literary figures, singers, television personalities, etc)
- The Everyday (food, nightlife, social media, etc)
- Objects and Emblems (flags, touristic guides, maps, etc)
For accepted proposals, we will then request a 400-word abstract and a brief biography (of up to 200 words) for September 1, 2021.