'“She knows it is all a load of old socks”: Doris Lessing, Anti-psychiatry, and Bodies that Matter.'Twentieth-Century Literature , Sept 2019 issue.
'Food, Duty, and Desire in the Women’s Novel in the 1960s' in the The Routledge Companion to Literature and Food ed. by Lorna Piatti-Farnell & Donna Lee Brien (Routledge, 2018)
The Routledge Companion to Literature and Food explores the relationship between food and literature in transnational contexts, serving as both an introduction and a guide to the field in terms of defining characteristics and development. Balancing a wide-reaching view of the long histories and preoccupations of literary food studies, with attentiveness to recent developments and shifts, the volume illuminates the aesthetic, cultural, political, and intellectual diversity of the representation of food and eating in literature.
'Sex, Censorship and Identity' in The History of British Women's Writing, 1945-1975, ed. by Clare Hanson & Susan Watkins (London: Palgrave, 2017), pp. 108-123.
Abstract: This chapter examines representations of female sexual experience in post-war women’s writing. In the early post-war period women writers practised self-censorship, disguising their obsession with sex through humour and metaphor. In the 1950s representations of female sexuality became more explicit but were confined to shameful, illicit love affairs which generally ended in loss and heartache. The 1960 Lady Chatterley’s Lover trial and the relaxing of sex censorship laws finally enabled women writers to more fully and imaginatively represent women’s sexuality in print, including: female sexual pleasure, pregnancy and childbirth, unwed motherhood, and same-sex desire. As the sixties drew to a close, sex had become once more reimagined, this time as a means of healing and overcoming past horrors, but it was also recognised as an obsession now outlived.
Book Review: Robert Rubenstein's Literary Half-Lives in Contemporary Women's Writing 9.2 (2015), pp. 305-307
I reviewed Robert Rubenstein's Literary Half-Lives: Doris Lessing, Clancy Sigal, and Roman a Clef for Contemporary Women's Writing (2015), Vol. 9 (2), pp. 305-307.
'Something New': Madness and Mothering in Doris Lessing's The Four-Gated City', Doris Lessing Studies 31.1&2 (2013), pp. 15-20.
Abstract: This paper reads narratives of motherhood in Lessing’s The Four-Gated City (1969) in terms of R. D. Laing’s The Politics of Experience (1967). I argue that Lessing uses Laing’s work to rethink discourses of motherhood and madness. These are particularly important because of their fundamental role in maintaining the social order. Discourses of mothering are concerned with the social inheritance of ways of being (that is, ways of ensuring adequate adaption to and acceptance of a modern “mad” world); discourses of madness are concerned with regulating and policing intelligible ways of being (that is, excluding or reabsorbing those who have failed to adapt and accept this “mad” world). The Four-Gated City represents madness and mothering as intimately bound up with one another and the text radically reassesses the “nature” of both in order to imagine a new and better future for humanity. However, unlike Laing, Lessing cannot imagine these changes taking place within existing social structures. The Four-Gated City demonstrates that Laing’s inattention to matters of gendered embodiment, including his conceptualising of the mad as “gender neutral”, limits the usefulness of his theories for the madwoman. In Lessing’s novel the potential of humanity is repeatedly shown to be realised only when the existing social order, including the sex/gender system, is evaded and, ultimately, destroyed.
'You can't judge a book by its coverage: the body that writes and the television book club', in The Richard & Judy Book Club Reader: Popular Texts and the Practices of Reading, ed. by J. Ramone and H. Cousins (Farnham: Ashgate, 2011), pp. 85-107
The Richard & Judy Book Club Reader, edited by Jenni Ramone and Helen Cousins, brings together historians of the book, literature scholars, and specialists in media and cultural studies to examine the effect of the club on reading practices and the publishing and promotion of books.
'In Chapter 5, Kerry Myler shifts attention to the author, noting that for the purposes of the television book club, the author cannot be dead (as Roland Barthes famously declared) but must be alive, present, and visible to promote and discuss their work. The chapter explores why an embodied author (and the return to authorial authority) is so necessary to the type of reading promoted by The Richard & Judy Book Club. Through a study of Lori Lansens's The Girls, which is narrated by conjoined twins, she explores how that imperfect body is mediated by the appropriately feminine and able body of the author. In addition, she considers the impact of sharing a body on the narrative voice, which cannot claim to be a single "I" in this circumstance' (p. 16).
From 'Introduction: On Readers and Reading' by Jenni Ramone and Helen Cousins.
Ethesis: Doris Lessing and R. D. Laing: madness and the matter of the body
My Phd thesis 'Doris Lessing and R. D. Laing: madness and the matter of the body' is held at University of Southampton library and in softcopy on the University's eprint repository. You can access the abstract on the repository but the thesis itself is not yet available.