What does femme mean – as an identity, a politic, an adjective, or a theory? Why, and for whom, is femme meaningful? Can femme be used as a theoretical framework akin to queer? Traditionally, femme has been used to refer to feminine lesbians within butch/femme relationships (Kennedy & Davis, 1993; Nestle, 1992; Levitt, Gerrish & Hiestand, 2003). However, contemporary research highlights the various embodiments and invocations of femme across sexual orientations and gender identities (Blair & Hoskin, 2015; 2016; Brushwood Rose & Camilleri, 2002; Burke, 2009; Coyote & Sharman, 2011; Dahl, 2011; 2012; Hoskin & Hirschfeld, 2018; Spoon, 2011; Volcano & Dahl, 2008). To explore and elaborate upon these emergent contemporary invocations and meanings of femme, this special issue will focus on the application of femme theory (Hoskin, 2017) within interdisciplinary research. Femme theory analyzes the commonalities across femme identities, while proposing a theory of critical femininities and feminine gender policing (femmephobia). This is achieved by centering traditional femme identified lesbians as the conceptual jumping point from which to theorize how departures from norms of femininity bring together these multiple femme invocations. Just as queer is used as a theoretical framework to question the confines of normalcy, while shifting the focus away from the naturalization of compulsory heterosexuality, femme tutelage can be used to prop up femme as a theoretical framework through which to understand feminine multiplicities, and feminine gender policing. Additionally, femme subjectivities can be used to bring to focus the complexities of femininity more broadly.
Contributors are asked to consider how the teachings and trajectories of femme can aid in the recuperation of femininity, or in the explication of femininity necessary to buttress the field of femininities. This issue asks what novel contributions can be made by anchoring femme within analytical frameworks, and by making femininity salient within interdisciplinary research. Femme as a theoretical framework urges scholars to consider how femininity is conceptualized, how it might be theorized differently, and why it might be important to do so. This thematic issue asks contributors to consider the insights that might be offered through their own examination of femininities, and what further insight femme theory may provide to their own areas of research. This special issue seeks to further femme theory as a framework of analysis that requires:
- Bringing feminine multiplicities and feminine devaluation into focus within interdisciplinary and intersectional research
- Understanding feminine intersections as central to understanding the ebbs and flows of power
- Questioning the assumptions made about femininity, and seeking to understand how these assumptions are informed by way of intersecting aspects of identity, or modes of oppression
- Situating femme subjectivity in order to unpack anti-femininity (femmephobia), and redefine femininity
- Expanding the terms by which femininity is articulated.
As the Journal of Lesbian Studies is an interdisciplinary journal, the special issue welcomes a wide range of multi-and interdisciplinary contributions, with particular consideration given to fields considered dissident in relation to LGBTQ+ studies, queer or femme theory. Submissions may be oral histories, feminist theory, research, fiction, empirical or theoretical articles from both qualitative and quantitative methodologies, or other works that employ femme theory. Contributions using multifaceted and intersecting components of identities are encouraged.
Submit a one-page overview of your proposed contribution and a 2-page CV to Rhea Ashley Hoskin at FemmeTheory.JLS@gmail.com by January 7th, 2019. Invitations to submit will be sent by January 14th, 2019, and complete manuscripts of approximately 5,000-7,500 will be due May 7th 2019. Please put “JLS Special Issue: YOUR NAME” in the subject line. Proposals will be evaluated for originality and writing style, contribution to the growth of femme theory, as well as how all the proposed contributions fit together.