While researching the introduction to my book on the widow in British literature and culture, I stumbled across a tune from the First World War which illustrates perfectly some of the attributes which have rendered the figure of the widowed woman a popular and loaded one here in Britain, not only since the Victorian period (which is where my book begins) but also from as early as Shakespeare’s times. Luckily for me, someone was generous enough with their time and enthusiasm to upload a YouTube video of his playing the original record, and below you can find my transcription...
Read the introduction to our special issue of Nineteenth-Century Context.
Research Seminar, 5 March 2014, Department of English, Durham University
This second post on widows in Victorian comic songs considers a piece which renders its widow financially, medically, socially, and sexually undesirable.
The first in a series of posts on deviant widows in popular comic songs from the 1840s, 50s and 60s.
This book chapter discusses the relationship between pornography and feminist politics in two neb-victorian novels: Sarah Waters’s *Fingersmith* (2002) and Belinda Starling’s *The Journal of Dora Damage* (2006).
[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.
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?
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.
2 October 2010, The Women’s Library, London
11-12 September 2009, University of Oxford