Women Writing Violence
Munich (printemps 2025), avant le 3 mai 2024

In the opening of When Women Kill: Four Crimes Retold (2022), Alia Trabucco Zerán meditates on the still-prevalent taboo surrounding violence committed by women: « A woman who kills … is twice outside the law: outside both the codified laws and the cultural laws that define and regulate femininity. » In identifying violent women’s twofold transgressiveness, Trabucco Zerán also articulates a desire to justify her own interest in writing about violent women, framing the book as a feminist project through which women’s rage, disobedience, and brutality are recovered and reconsidered to broaden conceptualisations of womanhood. Trabucco Zerán’s work identifies and reflects an ongoing cultural fascination with and abhorrence of associations between women and violence that has a long literary history. From early modern authors including Elizabeth Cary and Aphra Behn to more contemporary novelists such as Toni Morrison and Anna Burns, women writers have been representing fictional and nonfictional violence for centuries, whether in a bid to expose abuse, as part of a process of catharsis, or in complicity with oppressive socio-political regimes.

The workshop ‘Women Writing Violence’ seeks to explore literary representations of violence by women writers alongside cultural perceptions of women writing (about) violence throughout history. We welcome expressions of interest that consider questions including, but not limited to:

  • What can studying women’s articulation of violence diachronically show us about the representation of violence in women’s writing in distinct periods? 

  • Is there a « tradition » of women writing (about) violence? 

  • Is there a difference between « writing violence » and writing about violence?

  • How do women writers represent violence as a gendered phenomenon?

  • How are female writers implicated in cycles of violence? (Call to arms poetry, invocations of divine retribution on enemies, etc.)

  • How does a woman’s gender positioning define and/or influence the manner in which she writes about violence and, in turn, its reception? 

  • How might writing under a (male or gender-neutral) pseudonym change the reception of women who write violence? 

Our 2-day workshop is currently planned for March or April 2025 and will take place in person in Munich, Germany. We are in the process of applying for funding and confirming details, including venue and dates. We will provide further information to interested participants as soon as they become available.  

If you would like to join the workshop and contribute a 30-minute paper to our conversation, please send a short expression of interest (150 words) and a short bio note (max. 150 words) to womenwritingviolence@gmail.com by Friday, 3 May 2024. Please tell us about your idea for a paper, why you are interested in this topic, and if you have previous experience researching this topic. More fully developed abstracts will be required once the details of the workshop have been confirmed. 

If you have any questions, please get in touch: womenwritingviolence@gmail.com