Collective residences

VALERIE HEFFERNAN

From Monday, 14 March 2022 to Saturday, 19 March 2022

Bio

Professor of Literary and Cultural Studies and Head of the Maynooth University School of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures. Her research interests encompass 20th and 21st century literature, feminist literary theory and cultural studies. She has published widely on the representation of mothers, mothering and motherhood in contemporary European literature and culture. From 2014-2016, she was Principal Investigator of a research project entitled “The Cultural Transmission of Motherhood in Europe: A Case Study”, for which she was awarded a prestigious Irish Research Council Research Project Grant. She is currently involved in MotherNet, a new network of researchers on contemporary European motherhood that received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 952366.

Project

As part of this residence on 'Negotiating Childlessness and Non-Motherhood', I will be focussing my attention on some recent cultural products produced in the German language. Specifically, I want to look at how Austrian director Ulrike Kofler adapted Swiss author Peter Stamm's short story 'Der Lauf der Dinge' [The Way Things Go, 2014] for the cinema in her film 'Was Wir Wollten' [What We Wanted, 2020]. Kofler’s debut film focuses on a couple who are dealing with their disappointment and grief after a failed attempt to conceive through IVF. This chapter will look at how each member of the couple negotiates their own individual experience of infertility, as well as how they perceive and deal with other’s pain. It will also consider how the German-language short story and its cultural context were adapted for the big screen and an international audience.

The Project

The MotheNet Project offers deeper analysis and understanding of motherhood involving interdisciplinary approaches from humanities, social sciences, and medicine. The project tries to answer some crucial questions, in particular “What does it mean to be a mother in Europe today? The lived experience of motherhood has changed dramatically over the past generation, and this research explores how discourses and ideologies of motherhood reflect these changes. The research aims to shed light on the experiences of mothers who are marginalized, on maternal voices that have been silenced and the pressures on women to conform to normative ideas of motherhood. It is a European project involving 3 universities, Maynooth (Ireland), Upsala (Sweden) and Vilnius (Lithuania).

The stay in Olot was a great opportunity for the working group exploring “Negotiating Childness” to work on the proposed and accepted monograph on the issue. We had writing morning sessions and afternoon meetings to shape and discuss the different chapters that we have proposed. The volume called Negotiating Non-Motherhood: Representations, Perceptions, and Experiences and it is expected to be published next year.

Wonderful Stay at FaberLlull Residency in Olot

Four of the “Negotiating Childness” group researchers spent wonderful 5 days in Olot during which we wrote in the mornings and have very productive online meetings with the rest of the group in the afternoon. It has been a wonderful opportunity for us to dedicate 3 full days entirely to research (the other 2 were partly used for travelling). Olot is a great place, and the Residency is just perfect. The people, the facilities, the food, the location, the human warmth, just great. Thank you so very much!!!!!!

Notícies, articles i activitats

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