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  Events 2017

Thematising Women in the Work of J. M. Coetzee:
Essays from the Conference

A random selection of photos from Prato 2016

Call for Papers

Reading Coetzee’s Women

27-29 September 2016

Monash University Prato Centre, Palazzo Vai, Prato, Italy

Confirmed Participants/Keynotes:

Professor J.M. Coetzee (Adelaide)
Professor Elleke Boehmer (Oxford)
Professor Carrol Clarkson (Amsterdam)
Professor David Attwell (York)
Professor Derek Attridge (York)


Professor Sue Kossew (Monash)
Dr Melinda Harvey (Monash)


Conference Outline:

There has been enormous international scholarly interest in J.M Coetzee’s writings in recent years. Since 2010, four major international conferences (Sydney, Wuhan, Leeds and Adelaide) have been held and two literary biographies, nine monographs and over four hundred book chapters and journal articles have been published on his work. Despite this, very little has
been written on what we are calling, as a deliberate provocation, ‘Coetzee’s women’: on his female narrators and characters; or on the women writers who have influenced him and have been compared with him. This three-day international conference asks preeminent and emerging scholars to bring their attention to bear on ‘Coetzee’s women’, broadly conceived, as well as possible reasons for the lack of sustained critical engagement with this theme until now.

Possible paper topics include: Female ventriloquism | Love, sex and desire | Mothers and daughters | The woman writer | Female mentors and carers | Violence against women | Youth and aging | Women and race | Beauty | Coetzee and Gordimer | Women and power | The female gaze | Coetzee and Lessing | Women’s silence and speech | The male gaze | Women and education | Coetzee on women’s writing | Women’s knowledge | Feminist and queer readings of Coetzee’s writings

An intended outcome of this conference is an edited volume of scholarly essays.

Abstracts of not more than 250 words and a 50-word bio are invited and should be submitted by 15 April 2016 to

This event is hosted by the Centre for Writers and Writing, Monash University and kindly supported by the Faculty of Arts.

Updates will be posted on the conference website:

All other enquiries should be directed to the organisers:

Professor Sue Kossew (sue.kossew@monash.edu)
Dr Melinda Harvey (melinda.harvey@monash.edu)

This information in PDF format



Call for Papers

Download Programme:   .DOCX   .DOC   .PDF   .TXT

Coetzee's Other Arts

University of the Western Cape

18 July 2016

(post ACLALS conference at Stellenbosch, UWC and UCT)


Much recent scholarship on the work of J. M. Coetzee has focused on the relationship of his work to specific writers and literary traditions as well as to the broader philosophical tradition. Coetzee's interests and activities, however, extend beyond the text-based focus of most of this scholarship to collaborations with visual artists and composers as well as text-based performance arts like film and opera, not to mention poetry. At the same time, the recently expanded Coetzee archive is enhancing our understanding of his long-standing engagement with forms like film and photography, providing the basis for the recently published Two Screenplays (UCT Press, 2014), and shedding light on the range of adaptations for theatre and film that have been staged and mooted over the years.

This conference, then, aims to extend the current critical discussion to consider Coetzee's sustained engagement with other art forms. What we are terming Coetzee's Other Arts will focus on Coetzee's relationship to artistic forms beyond the printed novel, with a particular emphasis on non-literary and performative forms such as photography, film, painting, sculpture, music, dance, opera and theatre. We welcome proposals for papers that speak broadly to this topic, which might include:

  • Coetzee's collaborations with other artists (Berlinde de Bruyckere, Nicholas Lens)
  • Adaptations of Coetzee's novels for theatre, opera, film, music, or visual arts and responses to his work by other artists
  • Coetzee's critical and non-fiction writings on film, music, visual arts and poetry as well as his engagement with writers known for their dramatic works (Beckett is only the most obvious)
  • Photography, film, theatre, dance or opera as they feature within the fiction
  • Coetzee's formal engagement with the conventions and techniques of other art forms in his fiction, especially non-verbal and performance-based forms, as well as poetry

Reorienting Coetzee scholarship around a broader range of artistic forms will, it is hoped, bring new material and contexts to existing areas of critical debate. Coetzee's Other Arts aims to offer fresh perspectives on such topics as the representation of the body in the fiction, Coetzee's interest in nonhuman animals, his engagement with philosophy and the philosophy of language, his work's relationship to history and politics, and the various ways in which his work is located - regionally, nationally and internationally. Coetzee's persistent reworking of the novel form and conscious engagement with its history, as well as his sustained concern with textuality and the materiality of writing, will act as a platform for a reconsideration of questions of genre and medium, building on and contributing to existing scholarship on, for example, the relationship between drama and the novel form (Hodgson Anderson 2009, Kurnick 2012, Marshall 1986, Puchner 2002). It is also hoped that efforts to conceptualise Coetzee's relationship with art forms other than narrative fiction will contribute to scholarship on adaptation, intermediality and performance.

The conference will be hosted at the University of the Western Cape, and is co-organised by UWC Department of English and the Faculty of English Language and Literature, Oxford. 

Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words by 1 April 2016 to


Conference organisers

Dr Kate Highman (UWC) kate.highman@gmail.com

Dr Michelle Kelly (Oxford) michelle.kelly@ell.ox.ac.uk

Dr Hermann Wittenberg (UWC) hwittenberg@uwc.ac.za

Zuid-Afrika Huis in Amsterdam is reopening after renovations, and part of the festivity is the launch of Elleke Boehmer's novel The Shouting in the Dark, and David Attwell's biography JM Coetzee and the Life of Writing.
Both these books have been translated into Dutch.

Elleke Boehmer and David Attwell

in conversation with

Carrol Clarkson

Elleke Boehmer's novel The Shouting in the Dark and David Attwell's biography of Nobel Prize-winning author J.M. Coetzee raise several topics for lively conversation: autobiography; the personal and the political; memory; cultural and colonial legacies; South African literature; the creative processes of storytelling.


Elleke Boehmer is the Professor of World Literature in English, in the English Faculty at the University of Oxford. She is the author of five highly praised novels, the recent The Shouting in the Dark, as well as Screens again the Sky (short-listed David Hyam Prize, 1990), Bloodlines (shortlisted SANLAM prize), and Nile Baby (2008), and of the short-story collection Sharmilla and Other Portraits (2010). Other books include Colonial and Postcolonial Literature (1995, 2005), the biography Nelson Mandela (2008), Stories of Women (2005), and Indian Arrivals (2015). She edited the British best-seller Robert Baden-Powell’s Scouting for Boys (2004), and the anthology Empire Writing (1998), and has co-edited several books, including J.M. Coetzee in Writing and Theory (2009).  A founding figure in postcolonial literary studies, Elleke is currently the Director of the Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities and the General Editor of the Oxford Studies in Postcolonial Literatures Series. She was a Man Booker International judge 2015.

David Attwell is Head of the Department of English and Related Literature at the University of York, having worked at three South African universities before relocating to the UK in 2005. Born in Pretoria, he grew up in Cape Town. He completed his PhD at the University of Texas at Austin. J.M. Coetzee and the Life of Writing is his second monograph on the Nobel laureate. His other books include Rewriting Modernity: Studies in Black South African Literary History, and The Cambridge History of South African Literature, co-edited with York colleague Derek Attridge.

Carrol Clarkson is Professor and Chair in Modern English Literature at the University of Amsterdam. She has published widely on aesthetics, legal theory, and South African literature and art. Her books include J.M. Coetzee: Countervoices and Drawing the Line: Toward an Aesthetics of Transitional Justice. Before coming to Amsterdam she was the Head of Department and Professor in English Literature at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

18 February 2016

(doors open from 19:00)

Zuid-Afrikahuis Amsterdam
Keizersgracht 141-C

Tel +31(0)20 624 9318
or email

This information in DOCX format

€ 7,50

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