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CFP: Queer Incarnations of Roman Charity. The Politics and Erotics of Breastfeeding

Surprisingly, very little academic attention has been paid to the iconographical theme of Roman Charity, which emerged in Renaissance art and became particularly popular in the Baroque. More than three hundred artistic representations of Pero and Cimon are currently extant in European museums and collections (in various forms: oil paintings, drawings, medals, book illuminations, prints, marble statues, frescoes, decorative dishes), but studies dealing with this motif, going back to ancient Rome, are extremely limited.

The anecdote, which served as textual reference to the iconography of Roman Charity, was told by various authors from antiquity, among them Valerius Maximus, Pliny the Elder, and Gaius Julius Solinus. The story tells of an exemplary act of “filial piety”: Pero, a young girl, decides to secretly breastfeed her own father, Cimon, an old man accused of a capital crime and condemned to death by starvation in prison. When the secret is discovered and revealed by the jailers, the Roman judges, moved by compassion, reprieve Cimon and release him from jail. Pero’s act of devotion and tenderness turned her into an emblematic figure of piety (pietas) and heroism in ancient Rome.

This interdisciplinary volume will gather various contributions that deal, directly or indirectly, with the imagery of Roman Charity and its queer appropriations, regardless of historical period. The aim is to reflect upon non-normative breastfeeding as an expression of queer desire. The articles could analyse representations of Roman Charity in the visual or performing arts as well as literature and film, or elaborate a theoretical reflection inspired by gender studies, philosophy, history, but also psychoanalysis, anthropology, sociology, linguistics, medical sciences, semiotics and social discourse (press, publicity).

Regarding the motif of Roman Charity, we would like to privilege the following aspects :
Erotical potential of breastfeeding
Bodily erotizations of the gift
Reversal of gender and generation in Roman Charity Father-daughter lactations ; mother-daughter lactations
Nurturing relationships
Incest and taboo issues in Roman Charity
Intimate strangeness of the hospitable breast
Dissident corporalities in practices of nurturing
Parody and humor in Roman Charity
Pleasures and ambivalences around the good/bad breast
Partial pleasures, partial drives
Transgressive dimension and political affirmation of breastfeeding Normalisation of breastfeeding practices in public space Breastfeeding, a social norm ?

Please send 2000-2500 sign abstracts, along with a short bio-bibliographical note, in French or English, to Sarah-Anaïs Crevier Goulet (, Maribel Peñalver Vicea (, Jutta Sperling ( and Mireille Calle-Gruber ( before July 30th 2018. Notification will be sent to submitters by October 15th 2018. Articles should be sent by late April 2019.

*For full text of CFP please click on the 'External Link' below.


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