Women and Power in French and Francophone Cultures and Societies

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference


The topic ‘Women and Power’ is a particularly pertinent one in France today. Fifty years after May ’68, French society has seen a resurgence of politicised movements such as the ‘La Barbe’ or, more recently, the ‘Balance ton porc’ campaign against sexual harassment and sexism in public life. Equally, French feminist writing has played a pivotal role in challenging patriarchal literary, social and sexual norms, and much contemporary women’s writing in French continues to push the boundaries in its representation of the power relations governing women’s experiences. But where precisely does power in contemporary France lie? How is power gendered and what do its shifting fault lines tell us about women’s purchase on power? Can the emphasis on ‘l’égalité dans la différence’ in some currents of French feminism be reconciled with a genuinely egalitarian, power-sharing society? How is women’s relationship to power articulated according to class, generation or ethnicity? And what are the challenges and contradictions of women possessing power? The conference will focus on historical and contemporary instances of power (and powerlessness), empowerment (and disempowerment) in order to explore the contention that what constitutes women’s ‘power’ requires renewed investigation and theorizing. Further, it will suggest that this extensive area of investigation is best served by working across disciplinary boundaries. Papers from a variety of disciplinary perspectives and panels of an interdisciplinary nature are therefore encouraged, as are papers from graduate students and researchers outside the UK. Papers should not last longer than 20 minutes.

Suggested broad areas for papers / panels include but are by no means limited to:

• Spaces of power (including virtual spaces, the media, everyday life)
• Women and power in theory and thought
• Women in the political sphere (including representation, policy and forms of activism)
• Women and the world of work (including academia)
• Women and media production (including female-run publishing houses, female film directors, and translation)
• Women and power in literature and film
• Power, bodies and embodiment (including sex and sexuality, violence, and the politics of reproduction)
• Power, language, voice and voicelessness (including oratory and laughter)
• Power and marginalisation (colonialism, postcolonialism, race, ethnicity)
• Power and the life course (including childhood, adolescence, motherhood and old age)
Period17 May 201919 May 2019
Event typeConference
LocationLeeds, United Kingdom
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Women's writing
  • Power
  • Francophone literature