March 3, 2015

Every night there is some great and terrifying obstacle between me and sleep. Tonight it is a combination of reading books for my “Illness as Narrative” class with Nancy K. Miller (and being stunted by awful flashbacks to the kidney transplant days) and the enormous pressure of trying to push forward. Today I spoke with Laura Tropp, and she insisted that I must talk to Andrea O’Reilly about the creation of this journal before moving forward. I must admit, how frightened I am by this prospect, however its imperative that Andrea know that my interest; indeed, that “our” interest is for the greater good– not motivated by selfish, competitive fancies. BTW – its 4:30 am and I’ve been up since 3am.

I travel to Toronto this weekend to sit on the board of the JMI and review texts for their upcoming journal.

Also, I found out about this conference today.

Motherhood and Culture: International and Interdisciplinary Conference
15-17 June 2015
Maynooth University, Co. Kildare, Ireland
Confirmed Keynote Speakers:
Professor Nancy Chodorow (UC Berkeley & Harvard, USA)
Professor Andrea O’Reilly (York, Canada)
Stories about motherhood have powerfully shaped critical and theoretical directions at least since the publication of Simone de Beauvoir’s intellectually powerful feminist work, The Second Sex in 1949, which devalued maternal labour, a tendency then critiqued by Sara Ruddick’s key work, Maternal Thinking: Towards a Politics of Peace (1989), which defined maternal thinking and practice as a discipline. Recently what has been termed the ‘maternal turn’ in critical theory examines how positioning and expressing motherhood in a range of contexts is critical for understanding changing cultures, populations and media. As Clifford Geertz has argued, culture is the ensemble of stories we tell ourselves about ourselves; culture is not only a reflection of our values, our beliefs and our practices, it also influences and shapes those values, beliefs and practices. This conference seeks then to analyse the cultural meaning of motherhood in the contemporary era through exploring the stories we tell ourselves about mothers, mothering and motherhood through history, across diverse media and from various cultural, national, racial, class and gendered perspectives. Revaluing the maternal, socio-cultural diversity, and identity politics of mothers, mothering, motherhood frame this exciting international and interdisciplinary conference. We encourage researchers from a wide range of disciplines and cultural perspectives to submit proposals for papers that speak to mothers, mothering and motherhood in relationship to the following (and related) topics:
Identity, Diversity, Values, Feminism(s), Queerness, Transgression, Disability, Migration, History, Embodiment, Race, Class, Politics, Neoliberalism, Religion, Philosophy, Spirituality, Sexuality, Nationalism and/or Transnationalism, Psychoanalysis, Art, Music, Literature, Media, Popular Culture, Digital Culture, Language, Theory, Demography and also Non-motherhood, Delaying Motherhood, Refusal of Motherhood
To mark Bloomsday on 16 June, there will be a series of themed panels on the topic of ‘Joyce and Motherhood’. Proposals for this series might also cover related topics such as ‘Mother Ireland’, ‘Motherhood and Dublin’, etc.
Please submit proposals for papers (300 words and 3 keywords) along with a 50-word biographical note to the conference organisers at by 15 February 2015. Proposers should indicate if they would like their abstracts to be considered for the Bloomsday panels. Please note that submission of a proposal does not guarantee its acceptance. Proposers will be informed by 1 March whether their proposal has been accepted.
This conference is generously supported by the Irish Research Council and the Maynooth University Conference and Workshop Fund.
Conference Registration
Registration for the conference will open on 15 February 2015.
There will be an early-bird fee for the full conference of €150 (€75 with a valid student ID) for all registrations received before 30 April 2015; thereafter, the full conference fee will be €200 (€75 with a valid student ID).
Postgraduate Bursaries
A limited number of bursaries will be made available to postgraduate students as a contribution towards the costs of travel and accommodation. These will carry a value of €75 for students registered at institutions in Ireland and Northern Ireland and €200 for students registered at institutions outside of Ireland. Postgraduate students who are interested in applying for these scholarships should send a 300-word personal statement explaining the relevance of the conference topic for their research to the conference organisers at by 15 February 2015. Please note that postgraduate students who are invited to speak at the conference will be given priority in the allocation of bursaries.
Childcare Facilities
The conference organisers are please to confirm that the Maynooth University crèche will be able to offer childcare facilities on campus throughout the conference. In order to ensure that they can cater to the needs of participants and their children, the crèche require all parents/guardians who are interested in availing of this service to fill out and submit an online Expression of Interest form before 31 January 2015. Please note that there will be a small charge for this service.
Conference Organisers
Dr Valerie Heffernan (School of Modern Languages, Literatures & Cultures)
Dr Moynagh Sullivan (School of English, Media and Theatre Studies)
Dr Susan Gottlöber (Department of Philosophy)
Dr Tanya Cassidy (Department of Anthropology)
About the Research Cluster ‘Identity, Diversity, and Values’
Our sense of identity and our understanding of national, ethnic, gender, religious, and class issues shape how we live as citizens in harmony or conflict. Powerful forces such as globalisation, conflict and technological advancement are changing these notions in unforeseen ways. Researchers at Maynooth University seek to understand the consequences of how human identity is portrayed in a changing world. Our research examines critical debates in contemporary women’s writing and in gender, performativity and play across several languages and cultures. We focus on philosophical, psychoanalytical, anthropological, and sociological approaches to diversity, tolerance, inclusivity, plurality and ‘the other’, and use the concepts of diversity and identity to explore these developments, their expression, and their meaning for society.
Maynooth University is an ideal Host Institution for a Marie Skłodowska Curie Individual Fellowship and this cluster is interested in hearing from potential applicants. Contact for more information.

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