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"Drafting Monique Wittig" an International Conference

Morgane Cadieu (Yale) and Annabel Kim (Harvard) are co-organizing an international conference at Yale University called “Drafting Monique Wittig,” For two days, diverse set of interdisciplinary scholars will reflect on the life and work of French novelist, play-writer, activist and feminist theorist Monique Wittig, author of Les Guérillères, The Straight Mind and The Lesbian Body. Thie conference will also include an exhibition of Wittig's papers.


This conference both marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of Wittig’s landmark novel, Les Guérillères, and showcases the Beinecke’s recent acquisition of the Wittig papers. Participants will have the opportunity to think Wittig alongside and in the archives that constitute a material trace and record of her life and thought. Wittig’s archives, which will be featured in an exhibition at the Beinecke, will enable us to explore her relation to unfinished, encyclopedic, and collective forms of writing, as seen in her and Sande Zeig’s 1974 publication, Brouillon pour un dictionnaire des amantes. And unpublished documents (such as Wittig’s lecture notes for the classes she taught at various American universities) will reveal the influence her work as a teacher and her work as a writer had on each other. While Wittig’s archives will occupy a central role in the conference, no previous knowledge or familiarity with them is required to be able to participate, and we aim to bring together French- and English-speaking scholars from across the disciplinary and geographical map to reflect on the afterlives Wittig’s work and thought has had in the intervening years in literature, theory, the social sciences, and the arts.

“Drafting Monique Wittig” (in all of draft’s polysemy), follows up on and responds to the 2004 conference held at Harvard (co-sponsored by Yale University), “Remembering Monique Wittig: A Memorial Conference,” which brought together a diverse set of interdisciplinary scholars to reflect on the life and work of Wittig and to mark her passing in 2003.The theoretical, intellectual, and political landscape of our current moment is markedly different now than it was then. To name just a few developments, Wittig’s ars poeticaLe Chantier littéraire was published in 2010, providing the most-revised and latest iteration of Wittig’s reflections on the aesthetic and political dimensions of writing; intersectionality has emerged as the dominant paradigm within feminist studies and activism; trans studies is now a robust field of its own distinct from both feminist and queer theory; and new materialisms and post-humanisms have pushed aside the linguistic and representational questions that were so crucial to Wittig’s thought and work and to her universalist recuperation of human subjectivity for all minoritized and marginalized subjects. How does Wittig continue to stimulate and inform new approaches as diverse as affect theory and critical study of the Anthropocene? What is Wittig’s legacy–literary, experimental, conceptual, and philosophical—on contemporary literature?

This conference will explore the question of what Wittig can do for us and what we can do with Wittig in this shifting landscape, insisting thus on how her œuvre isn’t a museum but a worksite and an arena.


Thursday, October 10, 2019
Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, 121 Wall St

8:45am – Coffee on the Beinecke Mezzanine

9:15am – Opening Remarks by Morgane Cadieu (Yale University) and
Annabel Kim (Harvard University)

9:30am – Presentation of the Wittig Papers by Timothy Young, Curator of modern books and manuscripts at the Beinecke     

10am – Object session for the participants

11am – Gender then must be destroyed
(Chair: Carole Delaitre,
Graduate Student in French, Yale University)

Le pouvoir au bout du pronom: For a reconsideration of Les Guérillères in translation
Abigail Fields, Graduate Student in French, Yale University

Se “dé-marquer” avec Monique Wittig
Dominique Bourque, Associate Professor of Feminist and Gender Studies and French, University of Ottawa

12pm – Lunch in New Haven for the participants  

1:45pm – Intertexts, from the Age of Enlightenment to the Post-Apocalypse
(Chair: Morgane Cadieu,
Assistant Professor of French, Yale University)

Wittig’s Rousseau
Adam Schoene, Visiting Lecturer, Cornell University

No Straight Faces: Wittig’s Trojan Horse Humor
Julia Balén, Professor of English and Freedom and Justice Studies, California State University Channel Islands

Ludic Intertexts in Les Guérillères: Reading as Training in Popular Warfare
Aubrey Gabel, Assistant Professor of French, Columbia University

From Witting to Volodine, or, What Does Post-Exoticism Owe to Materialist Feminism
Lucas Hollister, Assistant Professor of French, Dartmouth College

3:30pm – Coffee Break in Beinecke Room 9

4pm – Keynote Address

Wittig’s Sapphic Body
Lynne Huffer, Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Emory University

5:30pm – Reception on the Beinecke Mezzanine

7pm – Dinner in New Haven for the participants

Friday, October 11, 2019
Beinecke Library (9:30-3:30pm) & Dept of French, 82-90 Wall, 3rd Floor (4-7pm)

9:30am – Coffee on the Beinecke Room 9

10am – Feminist Histories
(Chair: Sophia Helverson,
Graduate Student in French, Yale University)

The ‘War Machine’ of Language: Monique Wittig’s One-Dimensional Man and Post-68 Feminist Thought
Sandrine Sanos, Associate Professor of Modern European History,
Texas A&M University

French Hetero-Feminism and Monique Wittig’s Exile in the 1970s
Ilana Eloit, postdoctoral researcher at the CNRS and teacher at Sciences Po Paris

La pensée cisgenre
Kate Costello, Independent Scholar, PhD Duke University

Wittig’s Legacy: A Transfeminist Perspective
Blase Provitola, Visiting Assistant Professor of Language and Culture Studies, Trinity College

12pm – Lunch at the Beinecke for the participants

1:30pm – Rereading Wittig
(Chair: Annabel Kim,
Assistant Professor of French, Harvard University)

Drafting/Crafting L’Opoponax : sur deux traditions interprétatives de l’œuvre wittigienne
Yannick Chevalier, Maître de conférence, Université Lumière – Lyon 2

Lesbian Futurity: Reading Wittig in the Apocalypse
Héloïse Thomas, Graduate Student, Université Bordeaux Montaigne

Intimate Rot: Wittig as Anti-Abject
Gina Stamm, Assistant Professor of French, The University of Alabama

3:30pm – Coffee Break in the Romance Language Lounge, Department of French

4pm – Plenary Roundtable (in French and English): How to Write the
Life of a Feminist Writer and Thinker

Anne Garréta, Research Professor of Literature, Duke University and Université Paris Diderot
Ann Jefferson, Emeritus Professor of French, University of Oxford
Alice Kaplan, Professor of French, Yale University
Suzette Robichon, writer, editor, and activist
Sande Zeig, writer, film director, and partner of the late Monique Wittig

6pm – Reception in the Romance Language Lounge, Department of French

7pm – Dinner in New Haven for the participants.