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36th International D. H. Lawrence Conference: Home, Homes And Homeland

Publié le 26 mai 2022 Mis à jour le 27 juillet 2022
D.H. Lawrence Birthplace Museum, Eastwood, Notts
D.H. Lawrence Birthplace Museum, Eastwood, Notts

CALL FOR PAPERS (deadline : 7 November 2022) - D.H. Lawrence conference: Home, Homes and Homeland - Université Paris Nanterre


du 13 avril 2023 au 15 avril 2023

This is our own still valley / Our Eden, our home” 
“And I’m a pale-face like a homeless dog
That has followed the sun from the dawn through the east”
The Red Wolf

As a writer who spent the last ten years of his life travelling around the world in search of the freedom and creativity he felt his homeland could not give him, the least that can be said about Lawrence’s relationship to his home is that it was complex and shifting.

Lawrence’s early stories, set in his native Midlands, offer a historical and sociological testimony of life in the colliers’ and farmers’ homes – complete with details of the rent, furniture and architecture of their houses – and invite us to think about the duality of the home as both one’s parents’ home and a place of one’s own. Thus, nostalgia for the childhood home as a place of “irresponsibility and security” (Rainbow 76) recalls past feelings of belonging and comfort: “the heart of me weeps to belong / To the old Sunday evenings at home, with winter outside / And hymns in the cosy parlour” (Piano). The parental home provides protection against the hostility of the outside world, yet it may also be perceived by young men and women as a place of oppression to be escaped.

We will therefore study how Lawrencian characters are induced to leave home and the shielding influence of mothers – a necessary step towards adulthood: “the long voyage in the quiet home was over; we had crossed the bright sea of our youth” (The White Peacock 237). Some relinquish the notion of a traditional physical home, finding a home instead in the body of the beloved, like the poet-narrator of Song of a Man Who is Loved: “Between her breasts is my home”; others still, are compelled to leave the homeland, as Lawrence himself did in 1919, after many conflicts with the Home Office, involving the prosecution and destruction of The Rainbow in 1915, or his disgust with England’s government policies during the war. His fiction, letters and poems of that period show him to be unequivocally at odds with the politics and public feeling of his home country, which he openly criticised in the likes of the poem Songs I learnt at School, justifying his flight abroad.

Thus “home” becomes a denomination for England or Europe in Kangaroo, The Boy in the Bush and The Plumed Serpent, as Lawrence unearths traces of “home” in Australian cities, analyses how the “Old Country” is considered by the Australians, and ponders his own relationship to the now distant “home” country and the pull “homewards”. The Rananim project was of course one of the ideals Lawrence pursued around the world and in his writing, as his travelling protagonists seek to recreate a home for themselves abroad: Harriett Somers’s yearning for the safety and rootedness of a home manifests itself in contrast to Richard Somers’s rejection of homeliness, as Birkin did before him. Jack, in The Boy in the Bush, also asserts his homelessness, the word “home” having lost its meaning: “There are words like home, Wandoo, England, mother, father, sister, but they don’t carry very well” (230).

Feeling at home neither in one’s native country nor abroad, with no lasting home, one may become a “wandering Jew,” as Lawrence referred to himself in letters, subjected to bouts of homesickness, like Kate Leslie longing for spring or Christmas in Britain. Yet Lawrence invariably seems to imagine homecoming as an experience of estrangement and disappointment. Is there no permanent home then, for Lawrence and his characters, besides the eternal home behind the sun or in the moon, in The Plumed Serpent? But even that is the mystic home of the gods, to which Quetzalcoatl, Jesus and Mary retire. There remains the psychological home, feeling “at home in ourselves” (Woe), or the “home” of the Morning Star, in which men and women become their true selves.

Possible paths of reflection:

  • Home as a paradoxical space and polysemic concept
  • Home as a personal, physical or metaphysical space
  • Domesticity
  • Women’s and men’s roles at home 
  • Home as the mother-country
  • The metaphorical uses of the word home
  • From nostalgia to emancipation
  • Home and identity formation
  • Privacy and community
  • Homelessness and homecoming
  • The typology of dwellings (sociological implications, narrative function of these descriptions)
  • Comfort, furniture, decoration, possessions
  • The Lawrences’ homes in England and abroad
  • Foreigners who made England their home

Organisers: Elise Brault-Dreux, Fiona Fleming

Scientific Committee: Cornelius Crowley, Ginette Roy

The deadline for proposals is 7 November 2022.  Priority will be given to proposals received before the deadline, but we will continue to accept proposals until 14 November 2022.

Please send a 300-word abstract to: Fiona Fleming, fiona.fleming@parisnanterre.fr

Partenaires :
Link to our journal Etudes Lawrenciennes: https://journals.openedition.org/lawrence/

Mis à jour le 27 juillet 2022