In light of recent questions of immigration and terrorism, international politics has recently seen a surge in concern for "domestic" issues: the security, well-being, and unity of the nation. Increasingly, countries like France and the United States are "closing their doors" to the rest of the world, reasserting the boundaries of their "homelands."

The political efficacy of such language is hardly surprising if we reflect on images of the domestic within the collective imagination: the home is a place of intimacy, security, and comfort. It is a basic social unit, a way of understanding one's relationship to space. It occupies a central place in social theory, from Jean-Jacques Rousseau's description of the home as the first step of human civilization (Discours sur l'inégalité) to Simone de Beauvoir's critique of domestic work as a way of limiting women to the sphere of the profane (Le deuxième sexe). And insofar as it assumes the delimitation of boundaries between the home and the outside world, the domestic invites questions of power and identity: we might think of the place of the domestic (servant), the colonial construct of the "motherland"/patrie, or the Freudian notion of the unheimlich (uncanny).

In order to further explore this theme, we welcome paper submissions that engage with the domestic in any period of French or Francophone literature or culture. Possible topics might include, but are not limited to:

  • National identity and security
  • Familiarity and alterity
  • Borders and boundaries
  • Colonization/colonialism
  • Space and identity
  • Interaction between private and public space
  • Domestication of animals and the natural environment
  • Domestic service and servitude
  • Definitions of the family and gender roles
  • Tradition and preservation of culture
  • Hospitality and hostility
  • Domestic violence

Graduate students are invited to submit proposals for 20-minute presentations. Proposals should include a title, 250-300 word abstract, affiliated institution, and contact information. Papers may be in English or French. Submit proposals to [email protected] by June 24th (extended deadline).

Contact Info:  Whitney Mueller, Graduate student at Princeton University, Department of French and Italian