Editors: Mary McAleer Balkun, Seton Hall University
Susan C. Imbarrato, Minnesota State University Moorhead
If woman is indeed not born but made, as Simone de Beauvoir maintained, then certainly the process of empire building also impacts the “construction” of woman—what is normative, what is not, and how the difference between the two is navigated, especially by women themselves. As Kate Conboy, Nadia Medina, and Sarah Stanbury explain in their “Introduction” to Writing on the Body, there is a “tension between women’s lived bodily experiences and the cultural meanings inscribed on the female body that always mediate those experiences” (1). This tension is especially acute during times of crisis and social change, natural consequences of the power struggles in emergent empires. The lived bodily experiences of women can vary dramatically depending on age, class, and other variables, and what is ultimately written on their bodies may manifest as a call for change and an insistence on reform even in the midst of cognitive and/or physical disability, freakishness/monstrosity, and/or illness.
Produced from their unique position as both insiders and outsiders—a location from which women were expected to support the work of empire but not participate in its power structures—as well as their status as items of exchange within that domain, women’s narratives can illustrate the ways gender is implicated in the process of empire building. Thus, while women are supposed to embody the values of empire, the female form is also the place where difference is encoded and where the struggle between the empire and the other (whoever that “other” happens to be) is enacted.
For this proposed volume we are looking for papers that examine women’s narratives produced between 1600 and 1820 in which the female body serves as a site of struggle in the development of the American empire. Papers should be 5000 -7500 words in length and formatted according to MLA Style. Please send complete manuscripts, with 200-word abstracts, as well as any questions, to Mary Balkun firstname.lastname@example.org and Susan Imbarrato email@example.com.