Tagged: feminism

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About My Blog & Me

I’m Senior Lecturer in English Literature & Cultural History at Liverpool John Moores University, and I specialise in histories of women, gender, and feminism in Britain from the Victorian period to the present day, as well as in neo-victorianism, and contemporary women’s writing. I’m the author of The Widow: A Literary & Cultural History (LUP, 2017). I’m an AHRC/ BBC New Generation Thinker and have made broadcasts about my research on widows in Britain for BBC Radio’3 Free Thinking and The Essay. As part of the scheme, I recently made my first short documentary film – Women & Weeds – for BBC Arts, which will be available online from 1 April 2016.

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[Commentary] The Widow & the Law: A Brief History of Widows’ Pensions in Britain

At a time when we remember the First World War, its victims, and its survivors, it seems apt for me to share some of the research I’ve been doing on the literary and cultural history of the widow in Britain, and particularly on how the state’s support and the economic conditions of widowed women has changed in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and reflects both Britain’s development in terms of gender equality as well as the emergence of the welfare state.

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[Events & Funding] Contemporary Women’s Writing Skills Development Series

This AHRC-funded Contemporary Women’s Writing Skills Development Programme (CWWSkills) was a series of six workshops held between August 2013 and July 2014. The programme is designed to enable UK-based postgraduate research students and early-career researchers who work in the field of contemporary women’s writing to develop an entrepreneurial approach to their research.

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[Publication] Not My Mother’s Daughter: Matrilinealism, Third-Wave Feminism, & Neo-Victorian Fiction

The plot of Sarah Waters’ third novel, Fingersmith (2002), is based on a complex web of matrilineal narratives, which eventually are uncovered as fictions. This essay will analyse these matrilineal fictions in terms of their influences on the novel’s protagonists Sue and Maud, as well as considering the novel’s matrilinealism first as a feminist metaphor for third-wave feminism and secondly as a metafictional device commenting on neo-Victorian fiction’s relationship to the past. Finally, it will highlight the genre’s similarities to third- wave feminism in terms of their shared concern for and treatment of the relationship between past and present.

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[Publication] Dead Husbands & Deviant Women

Over the past decade, the detective widow has become a well-established character in the little-explored subgenre of neo–Victorian crime fiction. In Tasha Alexander’s Lady Emily series, the author argues, the detective widow investigates the gendered characteristics and complexities of Victorian widowhood while detecting the artistic crimes associated with historical fiction’s imitations and adaptations of the past.

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[Publication] Hystoriographic Metafiction

This article investigates the possible reasons for and significance of British twenty-first century fiction’s return to periods in which the field of mental health came into being and developed into a splintered discipline, contested by neurologists, alienists, pathologists, psychiatrists and psychoanalysts. Through an analysis of Sebastian Faulks’ Human Traces (2005), Michel Faber’s The Crimson Petal and the White (2002) and Maggie O’Farrell’s The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox (2006), this article aims to situate twenty-first century fiction within an interdisciplinary critical framework of questions: if, as Freud feared in his Studies on Hysteria (1895), psychoanalytic case histories can “read like short stories” (231), can novels in turn read like case histories of the societies and cultures of which they are products? If texts such as Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre (1848), Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White (1860), or Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s Lady Audley’s Secret (1862) were able to “put the many concerns Victorians had about insanity into dramatic perspective” (Appignanesi 87), then do their twenty-first century counterparts perform the same role with regards to issues surrounding women as practitioners and patients within the field of mental health in Britain at the turn of the new millennium?

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[Publications] Feminisms, Sex and the Body

From Mary Wollstonecraft’s call for chastity as a universal rather than a female virtue in A vindication of the rights of woman (1792), through nineteenth and early-twentieth century writings on the commodification of women in marriage and prostitution and campaigns for rational dress, to fights for women’s reproductive rights and sexual liberation in the 1960s and 1970s, the female body and female sexuality as sites of oppression and empowerment have long occupied a central place of concern in feminist theory and practice. In the new millennium, as in previous decades, this interest continues to engender productively diverse and conflicting, as well as often conflicted, responses by feminist scholars across disciplines whose work reflects upon and attempts to conceptualise women’s sexual bodies within the cultural and political landscapes of the twenty-first century.

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