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Germanophone Feminist and Queer Literature, Film, and Culture // Littérature, cinéma et culture féministes et queers germanophones

Montreal, Canada
Organization: Centre Canadien d'Études Allemandes et Européennes
Categories: German, Gender & Sexuality, Women's Studies
Event Date: 2023-10-25 to 2023-10-27 Abstract Due: 2022-12-01


Germanophone Feminist and Queer Literature, Film, and Culture

International Conference, Montreal (Canada)

25-27 Oct. 2023

Organizers: Flora Roussel (Université de Montréal) & Martine Béland (Université Sainte-Anne)

Keynotes: Katharina Oguntoye with Carolyn Gammon, Melanie Raabe, & Ervin Malakaj

ich male dir

ein dunkles gedicht

für dein weißes


mit einem rahmen

aus dem du


so wie ich

may ayim, “aus dem rahmen”

blues in schwarz weiss (1995)


Sketching a multi-facetted portrait, may ayim invites readers to overcome their fear of “black” (1996, 67)—a fear that has been instilled through colonization and imperialism. She proposes a literary form of activism and hopes readers will acknowledge how although some of us are more privileged because of color, sexual orientation, gender identity, or social status, we are part of one other’s lives.

Feminist and queer politics are changing societies by opening them to inclusivity and alliance within a decolonizing process. Activism is at the core of such processes of deconstruction and reconstruction. This is particularly the case of the critically acclaimed book Farbe bekennen: Afro-deutsche Frauen auf den Spuren ihrer Geschichte (ayim, Oguntoye, Schultz 1986) which addressed the neglected historical issues of race and class in relation to gender identity, or the more recent Queer-Feminismus: Label und Lebensrealität (Brezt, Lantzsch 2013) which discussed power dynamics inherent to language and aimed to relink queer feminism with activism. Literature (e.g., may ayim, Abini Zöllner) and film (e.g., Monika Treut, Angelika Nguyen) have helped to actively engage audiences with issues of racism, sexism, and queerphobia.

Yet, as Regine Criser and Ervin Malakaj note in their introduction to Diversity and Decolonization in German Studies, the “increase in diversity-focused efforts in nearly every sphere of public life is accompanied by a strengthening of political movements dedicated to white supremacy [and cisheteronormative affiliation]” (2020, 3). For instance, contemporary feminist literature and cinema have often been associated with the pop-feminist trend (Eismann 2007, Haaf, Streidl, Klingner 2008) which, however, is not truly inclusive (McCarthy 2017). In fact, pop-feminism has been compared to postfeminism, which strives to deconstruct norms while actually reconstructing them (McRobbie 2009).

Discussions on pop-feminism and postfeminism, however, ignore parallel feminist movements that tackle racism and queerphobia. This symposium seeks to interrogate the changing “construction” of feminist and queer politics in literature, film, and culture as forms and voices of activism. It will propose both critical insights on reactions (reactionary “texts,” clichéd plots, etc.) and new insights on actions (i.e., activism, experimental “texts,” genre subversion) and thereby participate in the increasing recognition of people of color, queer people, Indigenous people, trans people, non-binary people, and women—for, in bell hooks’ words, “feminism is for everybody” (2015), as are queer politics.

How can we dismantle oppressive forces through literary action? How can feminist and queer politics counter backlash? What power do words have in resisting oppression and marginalization? With this symposium we wish to engage with such notions and (re)enter a discussion about identities and bodies with regard to literary, cinematographic, and larger cultural practices and realities. Paper proposals can focus on but are not limited to the following topics:

·       Alliance, sorority, reconciliation

·       Inclusivity, diversity, recognition

·       Imaginaries, experiences, aesthetics

·       Words, constructs, acts

·       Backlash, gaps, confrontation

·       Decolonization, resistance, survival

Proposal Submission

We welcome proposals in English or in French by graduate and postgraduate students and by professors. Each talk will be allocated 20 minutes followed by a Q&A. Please send a 300-words proposal by 1st Dec. 2022 to: flora.roussel@umontreal.ca. Proposals must be sent in two distinct files: in the 1st, please include the title of your proposal and the proposal text itself; in the 2nd, please include your name, institution or organization, email address, a short biography (150 words), and the title of your proposal.

Inclusivity is at the core of the symposium. We want to provide a space fostering equity. We encourage proposals from persons that have been or are marginalized based on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, race, disability, political belief, religion, age, and/or status as a First Nation, Metis, Inuit, or Indigenous person: you are invited to specify this in the second file, if you so wish.


ayim, may. 1996 [1995]. blues in schwarz weiss. Berlin: Orlanda Frauenverlag.

ayim, may, Oguntoye, Katharina, Schultz, Dagmar (Eds.). 2020 [1986]. Farbe bekennen: Afro-deutsche Frauen auf den Spuren ihrer Geschichte. Berlin: Orlanda Frauenverlag.

Brezt, Leah, Lantzsch, Nadine. 2013. Queer-Feminismus: Label und Lebensrealität. Münster: unrast.

Criser, Regine, Malakaj, Ervin (Eds.). 2020. Diversity and Decolonization in German Studies. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan.

Eismann, Sonja (Ed.). 2011 [2007]. Hot Topic. Popfeminismus heute. Mainz: Ventil Verlag.

Haaf, Meredith, Klingner, Susanne, Streidl, Barbara. 2009 [2008]. Wir Alphamädchen: Warum Feminismus das Leben schöner macht. Hamburg: Hoffmann & Campe.

hooks, bell. 2015 [2000]. Feminism Is for Everybody. Passionate Politics. New York: Routledge.

McCarthy, Margaret. 2017. Mad Mädchen: feminism and generational conflict in recent German literature and film. New York: Berghahn Books.





Flora Roussel