CFP: Cultural Representations of the Second Wife: Literature, Stage, and Screen (Abstracts Due: April 3, 2021)

This call is for abstracts for a scholarly, international edited collection entitled Cultural Representations of the Second Wife: Literature, Stage, and Screen.

The editors are seeking a number of academics and professionals in the field who might like to send an abstract for consideration for inclusion in the book. Deadline for abstracts: 3 April 2021.

In any culture, religious and cultural beliefs are inseparable, and intrinsic one to the other, and are important to the marriage  customs and laws.

Regardless of whether a culture is mainly monogamous or polygamous, one female figure that attracts attention is the second wife. A woman may become the “second wife” either by fact or by custom, or by religious law, or by de facto relationship, or by concubinage. In most though not necessarily all cultures, and according to the religious and cultural beliefs and laws of a culture, as well as the civil laws of that country, a man who has been but is no longer married may remarry; and in some cultures also, a man who is currently married may marry or take a second wife who may or may not have been formerly married to some different man. In some other cultures, cultural customs, or religious dictates, or accepted practices, or inheritance factors, forbid men who are divorcees or widowers to remarry. Similarly, and perhaps more so than with men, some cultures forbid widows or divorced or abandoned women from remarrying.

It is generally understood that whether she is welcomed by her new in-law family, or not, the first wife as a new wife, brings with her some baggage into the new relationship, into the life of the man she weds, and hence into the family into which she marries, and ultimately into that society; but perhaps this is more so in the case of the second wife.  From antiquity to the present, like the first wife, the second wife features in stories, anecdotes, and jokes, and in both high and low culture, but in a way that is vastly different to how the first wife is depicted. The concept of the second wife is an important part of social and cultural history and ritual in most societies, world-wide, yet it would seem that to date, there are no published scholarly edited collections, no academic books, on representations of the second wife from the angle suggested in this cfp.

In can be said that in any culture, the role of the second wife may differ to that of a first wife. The act of becoming and the experience of being a second wife may also be somewhat different to that of being a man’s first wife. Questions arise: within any culture, regardless of her status as a woman, what are the implications for a woman who marries a widower or divorced man? Likewise, what are the implications for a second wife in a polygamous relationship? This scholarly edited collection will reveal how the personal expectations and actual experiences of the second wife may differ from the social and cultural expectations and realities of the role of the second wife; and how the second wife may be perceived in the popular and social culture of various cultures, in screen, stage, and literary productions and pop culture narratives.

Some suggestions for potential contributors to consider, and that could be addressed, may include but are not limited to are:

  • What are the cultural and social duties of the second wife; what are the cultural expectations of her; and what are her personal realities and expectations, as represented in the popular culture of a particular culture/society? Is it possible to detect differences or sameness between the fictionalized portrayals and the realities and social dictates of that culture?
  • What are the distinctions between how the second wife has been typically represented in jokes and anecdotes, to that in popular and social culture as literature, film, drama, and television?
  • How do class, ethnicity, culture, race, gender, and possibly history, shape representations of the second wife?
  • Are there any powerful cultural or socially historical antecedents for the representation of the second wife in popular/social culture, as screen, stage, and literary productions?
  • What are the creators and/or the producers intentions behind  their portrayals of the second wife; what are the messages or lessons they intend for their audiences through these depictions?
  • How would we establish the underlying cultural, historical, or production motivations for particular depictions of the second wife?
  • How often, if at all, are these representations told from the point-of-view of the second wife herself?
  • What is the range of ways in which the second wife  is represented in the popular/social culture of the various societies?
  • Is it possible to identify contemporary writers of popular culture in literature, film, and drama, who center their work on representations of the second wife?  Do any of these writers illuminate individual representations of the second wife figure in a new and innovative way?
  • Is there a difference between the ways in which the second wife is represented in cinematic film to that in small screen, and between those mediums to representations in drama, and to literature? Or in these representations, is there a reasonably broad consensus between these genres?

This collection of scholarly essays will make an intervention in the field: it will be the first of its kind to make a comprehensive study of what being a second wife means to and for the woman, the family, the community, the culture, and the society to which she belongs; to explore whether or not there are characteristic features of the second wife between cultures that may have either some similarity, or that are totally dissimilar, in popular belief and popular culture; to document and record how various eastern and western societies perceive and represent the socially and culturally important figure of the second wife in screen, stage, and literary works and pop culture narratives; to indicate if there is agreement or difference between the various cultures on how the figure of the second wife is represented in popular culture to the viewing/reading audiences; to establish a new and dynamic area of theoretical research crossing family studies, women’s studies, cultural studies, social history, gender studies, social studies, and the humanities in general; to point the way to possible future cross-disciplinary work through examining various peoples and societies by way of cultural representations of the second wife; and to permit scholarly consideration of the extent to which the creators and producers of narratives about the second wife place this figure on the perimeter of society or at its center.   

Submission instructions:

At this initial stage, in lieu of “chapters,” this proposed work, Cultural Representations of the Second Wife, calls for extended abstracts for consideration for inclusion in the book.

  1. The extended abstracts must be more than 1,000 and less than 1,500 words.

Full-length chapters of 6,000 – 7,000  words each (including notes but excluding references lists, title of work, and key words) will be solicited from these abstracts.

  • Please keep in mind that your essay-chapter will be written from your extended abstract. Your abstract will carry the same title as your essay-chapter.
  • To be considered, an abstract must be written in English, and submitted as a Word document.
  • When writing your abstract use Times New Roman point 12,  and 1.15 spacing.
  • At the beginning of your extended abstract, immediately after the title of your work and your name, add 5 to 8 keywords that best relate to your work.
  • Use the Chicago Manual of Style 16th Edition.
  • Since this work is intended for Lexington Books, USA, please use American (US) spelling not  English (UK) spelling, and not Australian English spelling;
  • Use the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary;
  • Use endnotes and not footnotes, use counting numbers not Roman numerals, and keep the endnotes to a bare minimum, working the information into the text where possible;
  • Do cite all your work in your extended abstract as you would in a full chapter:

a) in the body of the abstract, add parenthetical in-text citations (family name of author and year, and page number/s) (e.g. Smith 2019, 230);

b) fully reference all in-text citations in detail and in  alphabetical order, in the References list at the end of your abstract;

  1. Please send your abstract as a Word document attached to an email;
  2. To this same email please also attach, as separate Word documents, the following:
  3. Your covering letter, giving your academic title/s, affiliation, your position, and your home and telephone numbers, your home address, and your email contact details;
  4. A short bio of no more than 250 words;
  5. Your C.V., including a full list of your publications and giving the publishing details and dates, and including those in press, and published.

Editor: Dr Jo Parnell, Conjoint Research Fellow, School of Humanities and Social Science, Faculty of Education and Arts, University of Newcastle, Australia. 

Papers should be forwarded to:  

Jo Parnell at:  or or  

Categories: Non ACCUTE CFPs

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