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The conference "Feeling Form/Forming Feeling?: Dialectics of Affect and Form in Anglophone Women’s Writing, 1550-1800" will be held at Ghent University, Carmelite Monastery, 14-15 October 2022 and the call for papers is now open. Deadline is 1 March 2022.

What art thou, Spleen, which ev’ry thing dost ape?
Thou Proteus to abused mankind,
Who never yet thy real cause could find,
Or fix thee to remain in one continued shape.
Still varying thy perplexing form, (Anne Finch, “Spleen” 1709)


In the field of historical women’s writing, new formalist methodological approaches and theories of affect are being advanced and contested as scholars reimagine the relationship between text and context. Looking at the affordances, collisions and structuring principles of form and affect, this conference invites scholars to explore intersections between form and feeling in women’s writing between 1550-1800: what does a feminist formalist methodology attendant to feeling and affect look like? How does such a perspective allow us to recentre and rethink the position of women’s writing within the larger field of literary studies?

Keynote speakers

  • Prof. Michelle M. Dowd (University of Alabama)
  • Prof. Danielle Clarke (University College Dublin)
  • Prof. Ros Ballaster (Oxford University)


Possible topics include but are not limited to the following

  • Theoretical reflections on (new) formalism as a feminist methodology
  • Rethinking periodization: formalism as a transhistorical perspective
  • Formalism and reception, translation, transculturalism and transnationalism
  • Affect and feeling in historical women’s writing
  • Formalism and rethinking canonization
  • Forms and affects of social and political agency
  • Affect and form and the rise of feminist literary studies
  • Forms of material culture (manuscript, print, book history)
  • Gender, genre and form
  • Bodies, embodiment and emotion


To apply to give a 15-to-20-minute paper please send a proposal of 250 words and a short biographical statement to We especially welcome papers from early career researchers and PhD students. PhD students and early career researchers are warmly invited to participate in our workshop on women’s writing and public outreach the day preceding the conference, Thursday October 13th, 2022.

DEADLINE: March 1st, 2022

Organizing committee

  • Anna-Rose Shack (University of Amsterdam)
  • Fauve Vandenberghe (Ghent University)
  • Zoë Van Cauwenberg (KU Leuven & Ghent University)