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“How was the New Woman comparatively constructed in the East and West”.

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Organizer: Simone O Malley Sutton

Co-Organizer: Ji Hyea Hwang

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The term ‘New Woman’ was coined by Irish feminist writer Sarah Grand in 1893. How was the New Woman comparatively constructed in the East and West? How did each new alternative version influence the next, as divergent versions travelled across cultures in this reciprocal transnational exchange of radical ideals between East and West? Did imbricating themes of gender, postcolonialism, language and modernism all collide globally to form the New Woman? And what are the stakes for modern audiences?

Nationalist revolutions frequently open a liminal space for female subjectivity, yet these New Women subjectivities were often subject to, and circumscribed by, the problematising interplay of masculinist rhetoric and nationalism, as predominantly masculinist nationalist discourses indefinitely postponed the struggle for women’s rights, to first establish freedom for the nation. Did male writers seek to co-opt constructions of the New Woman? How does the establishment of modern versions of masculinity complicate these categorisations? Was the New Woman category constructed differently in the postcolonised peripheries than in the imperial centre? How did intersectionalities of race, gender, age and class combine to form the erasure of female literary legacies? And how do themes of erasure link to how female literary legacies were written out of what became ‘his-story’? We welcome comparisons of how the New Woman was created in the East and West, as well as previously unexplored pairings as a work of retrieval for erased and elided female literary legacies.

 

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