EVENT: ‘Diana Gabaldon and the American Obsession with Scotland’ with Dr. Rachel Noorda

Please join us and Dr. Rachel Noorda on the 11th of November for the second event of this TLW series: the Outlander-themed discussion, ‘Diana Gabaldon and the American Obsession with Scotland’.

Free to all! 5:15pm on the 11th of November, Room 205, 4 The Square, University of Glasgow.
Come along for refreshments, and a discussion of transatlantic relations in popular literature and media!

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Transatlantic American writer Diana Gabaldon is author of the bestselling Scottish historical fiction Outlander series, which has sold over 20 million copies. In this talk, Dr. Rachel Noorda investigates Gabaldon’s popularity amongst readers in the United States through the lens of the Scottish diaspora to untangle the reasons for the American obsession with Scotland in literature.

Dr. Rachel Noorda is Director of Book Publishing and Assistant Professor of English at Portland State University. She earned her PhD in Publishing Studies from the University of Stirling. Her research expertise and interests include twenty-first century book culture, international book marketing and audiences (like the Scottish diaspora), and small business and entrepreneurship in book publishing.

The Transatlantic Literary Women Series is generously funded by the British Association for American Studies / United States Embassy Small Grants Programme. Follow us on twitter @atlantlitwomen.

 

A new edition of Zelda Fitzgerald’s Save Me The Waltz will be published on January 14th by Handheld Press. We spoke with founder Kate Macdonald about the publishing process ahead of her talk at the University of Glasgow on the 23rd of January.

Zelda-cover-with-border-300x480 Zelda Fitzgerald is no stranger to being overlooked. Her combined work with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Bits of Paradise (consisting of twenty-three stories written by the couple) would see Zelda’s name erased from many of the titles, and literary agent Harold Ober removed her name from her short story Millionaire’s Girl on publication. Yet, she persisted. Her novel Save Me The Waltz is a masterpiece, documenting a woman’s desire for freedom in her own life set throughout the first half of the twentieth century. Despite recent critical acclaim, the book finds itself in and out of print regularly, and so founder of Handheld Press, Kate Macdonald, knew she had to act.  “When I heard her only novel had gone out of print, it was like a call to arms for me, a lightbulb moment. The neglected woman author is probably my most enduring scholarly interest, and I knew the market would respond well to a new edition of this novel.”

Save Me The Waltz follows Alabama Beggs, a woman who ‘wanted her own way about things’ and is determined to follow her own path. After marrying artist David Knight (the book is widely thought to parallel Zelda’s relationship with F. Scott Fitzgerald), Alabama’s life is a whirlwind tour of the Jazz Age, highlighting the grim realities behind a romanticised time. Eventually, Alabama finds purpose in ballet and begins to pursue the art at the age of twenty-seven. “Alabama’s ballet training, as a contrast to David Knight’s artistic life and production, and the immersion into theatrical consumption in New York and Paris in the 1920s, captivated me,” Kate adds, “as well as Zelda’s narrative style, her gift for description and dialogue and the economy of her narrative.” The ballet training scenes are particularly poignant in this age where success is often seen to be synonymous with youthfulness; Fitzgerald paints a painful picture of Alabama being told she is too old to pursue her passion in her twenties, but the strength and determination exhibited in these pages is enough to ignite inspiration in any reader.

Despite Zelda Fitzgerald experiencing a recent increase in popularity (mostly due to her relationship with her husband – highlighted in the recent Amazon Prime show ‘Z: The Beginning of Everything’), her status as a ‘forgotten’ woman writer still stands. “When I present the novel,” Kate notes, “the response has been along the lines of ‘Oh, I didn’t know she wrote’, and ‘I’ve never heard of her: is she related to F. Scott Fitzgerald?’; but I’ve had a good response from bookshop buyers, readers and scholars which has shown that my instincts to republish Save Me The Waltz were right.”

The new Handheld Press edition has an introduction from Erin E Templeton, providing a fascinating account exploring the parallels between Zelda’s struggles to have a life of her own and Alabama’s struggle to be a dancer. It also features a refreshing cover design by Nadja Guggi (who is responsible for the iconic look of the Handheld Press titles).

If you want to hear more from Kate Macdonald about publishing Save Me The Waltz (as well as Sylvia Townsend Warner’s Kingdoms of Elfin) then join us on the 23rd of January, 5 University Gardens at 5:15pm to hear an in-depth account of the publishing process.

You can purchase Save Me The Waltz here and at John Smith’s Bookshop in the Fraser Building from the 14th of January.

 

Helen Hanson, “Putting “Rebecca” on Trial: Daphne du Maurier and Hollywood’s mid-century Adaptation Industry”, Tuesday 9th October, 5pm.

Venue: Room 101, 5 University Gardens, Glasgow University.

TLW are thrilled to be hosting Professor Helen Hanson from the University of Exeter on Tuesday 9th October. We can’t wait to hear Prof. Hanson’s talk, “Putting “Rebecca” on Trial: Daphne du Maurier and Hollywood’s mid-century Adaptation Industry.” This is definitely one for our film buffs, and anyone interested in women and film, Daphne du Maurier, Alfred Hitchcock, or film noir. Read on to find out more about what we’ll be discussing on the evening.

As with all our events, this talk is free and open to all. We’re a friendly and welcoming bunch here at TLW, so please do come and join us from 5pm for drinks and refreshments, with the talk beginning at 5.15pm in room 101, 5 University Gardens.

“Putting “Rebecca” on Trial: Daphne du Maurier and Hollywood’s mid-century Adaptation Industry,”

 

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Daphne du Maurier’s novel Rebecca (1938) has continued to grip and seduce its readers in the 80 years since its publication. The novel’s success springs from du Maurier’s brilliant control of her plot, and her bravura evocation of the gothic mood. Rebecca is a sensational story, but with its roots in the long tradition of female gothic literature, it reads like a classic. These qualities made Rebecca a highly attractive property for screen adaptation, and Alfred Hitchcock’s film version released in 1940, was huge critical and box office success; the film won the Oscar for Best Picture and it inaugurated a trend for dark gothic films for women during the 1940s. However, in the background of the film’s success Daphne du Maurier, and the film’s producer David O. Selznick, were fighting a lawsuit which contended that Rebecca infringed copyright. The story of the case, which was eventually resolved in favour of du Maurier, is intriguing. The talk will examine some of the legal documents, correspondence and statements from the legal process, and papers from the Daphne du Maurier archive at the University of Exeter. These documents provide fascinating insights into du Maurier’s writing process, as well as offering a judgement on Rebecca as a novel that is both highly original and part of the wider gothic genre.

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Speaker bio: Professor Helen Hanson is an Associate Professor in Film History at the University of Exeter. She has written widely on the history of American cinema, and she has particular interests in the history of creative processes ‘behind the scenes’ in the Hollywood Studio Era. She is the author of Hollywood Heroines: Women in Film Noir and the Female Gothic Film (2007) and Hollywood Soundscapes: Film Sound Style, Craft and Production in the Classical Era (2017) and the co-editor of The Femme Fatale: Histories, Images, Context and The Companion to Film Noir.

 

 

Janine Bradbury, “Racial Passing and Its Transatlantic Contexts”, 5.15pm, Tuesday 20th November, Room 101, 5 University Gardens

The Transatlantic Literary Women are excited to be welcoming Dr Janine Bradbury to Glasgow to give a paper titled: “Racial Passing and Its Transatlantic Contexts”. The talk takes place in room 101, 5 University Gardens at 5.15pm on Tuesday 20th November with drinks and refreshments available from 5. This is a social, friendly gathering. As always, everyone is welcome. Hope to see you there!

Racial Passing and its Transatlantic Contexts

During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, an entire literary genre emerged in the United States that revolved around light skinned, mixed race African Americans who ‘fraudulently’ pretended to be or passed for white in order to ‘evade’ racism, prejudice, and segregation. Films like Imitation of Lifebrought the topic to a national audience and writers as diverse as William Faulkner, Mark Twain, and Langston Hughes featured passing in their works.

Given that the United States has a distinct history of race relations, how do stories about passing ‘work’ beyond these regional and national contexts? And do American stories about passing inspire and hold relevance for writers across the black Atlantic? How is gender and nationhood represented in these works? And what role do women writers play in the history of the passing genre?

This talk explores the phenomenon of ‘passing-for-white’ as represented in the work of transatlantic literary women ranging from Harlem Renaissance writer Nella Larsen to contemporary British writer Helen Oyeyemi and asks why passing continues to inspire women writers across the West.

Bio: Janine Bradbury is a Senior Lecturer in Literature at York St John University where she is also the Acting Subject Director of American Studies. Her work on passing has appeared in the Guardian and her forthcoming book Contemporary African American Women Writers and Passing will be published with Palgrave Macmillan.

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Jennifer Haytock, “Writing for France: American Women Writers and the Great War”, Wednesday 17 October, 5.15pm,

 

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The Transatlantic Literary Women are excited to be welcoming US academic Professor Jennifer Haytock to Glasgow on Wednesday 17 October.

Jennifer will be talking about American women writers in France during the First World War. Gertrude Stein, Alice Toklas, Mildred Aldrich, Edith Wharton, Gertrude Atherton, and Dorothy Canfield Fisher will all be present! The talk takes place in room 202, 4 University Gardens at 5.15 on Wednesday 17 October, with drinks and refreshments available from 5. This is a social, friendly gathering. As always, everyone is welcome. Hope to see you there!

Writing for France: American Women Writers and the Great War

Looking back in her unpublished autobiography, the American journalist Mildred Aldrich wrote how “strange” it was that during the war “I . . . should suddenly find myself more alive than I had ever been, and possessed with but one idea—a wish to try and make everyone see the situation from my point of view.” Aldrich and other American women writers, including Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, Edith Wharton, Gertrude Atherton, and Dorothy Canfield Fisher, were either already living in France when the Great War began or came to France in order to contribute to the war effort. With the exception of the more domestic Toklas, all were professional women and many were well-known public figures before the start of the war, and they turned their skills and reputations to the work of educating Americans about why the invasion of France and Belgium mattered. While American men too worked behind the lines and wrote about the plight of France and Belgium, these women were able to write about the war without the baggage of masculinity, so often tied to martial prowess, thus opening up the ways in which war could be written about. In reportage, memoir, short stories, and poems, these writers showed Americans the suffering of refugees and the wounded, the physical devastation of the war, and the efforts of the French to take care of their own problems, all with an eye for engaging American sympathy and calling them to action. As we prepare to mark the centenary of the Armistice, we’ll examine the ways that American women writers sought to invest their fellow citizens in the plight of France.

Jennifer Haytock is professor of English at The College at Brockport, SUNY. She has published The Routledge Introduction to American War Literature, The Middle Class in the Great Depression: Popular Women Writers in the 1930s, Edith Wharton and the Conversations of Literary Modernism, and At Home, At War: World War I and Domesticity in American Literature.

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Suffragette Spotlight: Rosa May Billinghurst

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Photo courtesy of LSE Library

As we look forward to our upcoming Suffrage Centenary Celebration at Glasgow’s People’s Palace Museum (26th and 27th May 1-4pm), we’ve decided to blog about some of the inspiring women who fought for women’s suffrage. Today, we’d like to tell you about suffragette Rosa May Billinghurst.

Rosa May Billinghurst was born in London in 1875, contracted polio as a child, and was consequently a wheelchair user, dubbed by the press as ‘The Cripple Suffragette’. She worked with her sister to rehabilitate prostitutes and was inspired to become more involved in women’s rights. She said:

‘My heart ached and I thought surely if women were consulted in the management of the state happier and better conditions must exist for hard-working sweated lives such as these. It was gradually unfolded to me that the unequal laws which made women appear inferior to men were the main cause of these evils.’

She attended talks by Millicent Fawcett (whose statue was recently unveiled in London) and the Pankhursts, and became an active member of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), organising campaigns and meetings. Billinghurst was at the November 1910 demonstration known as Black Friday, where she says:

‘At first the police threw me out of the machine [her wheelchair] on to the ground in a very brutal manner. Secondly when on the machine again they tried to push me along with my arms twisted behind me in a very painful position. Thirdly they took me down a side road and left me in the middle of a hooligan crowd, first taking all the valves out of the wheels and pocketing them so that I could not move the machine.’

At a demonstration shortly afterwards she turned the tables on her aggressors, using her wheelchair as a ram to push through a police cordon, and was arrested. She became increasingly militant, and in 1912 she was arrested for window–smashing, and sentenced to a month in Holloway prison. In 1913 she destroyed the contents of a letterbox and was sentenced to eight month’s imprisonment, and immediately went on hunger strike. The authorities, against the advice of her doctor, attempted to force-feed her, damaging her teeth in the process. The Home Secretary ordered her release after ten days, fearing that she might die in custody otherwise. Billinghurst, undeterred, began campaigning against force-feeding, continued fighting for votes for women, and was involved in the 1914 battle outside Buckingham Palace, between suffragettes and 1,500 policemen.

With the onset of the war, and after negotiations with the WSPU, the government released all suffragettes from prison, and in 1918 women of property over the age of thirty were granted the vote. Ten years later, this vote was extended to all British women over twenty-one years old, regardless of property. As far as Billinghurst was concerned, the campaign was not over. She continued to work with women’s societies, such as the Suffrage Fellowship and the Women’s Freedom League throughout her life, and when she died in 1953 of heart failure, she donated her body to the London school of Medicine for Women.

Keep an eye on our website for more blogs like this one, or follow us on Twitter @transatlanticladies using the hashtag #TLWsuffrage. And if you want to learn more about ground-breaking suffragettes, make your own rosettes, and learn about women and the vote, join us at the People’s Palace for an afternoon of crafts, talks, and a look at Glasgow’s suffrage collections!

Saskia

For more on Billinghurst see:

http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-63834?rskey=nofOpm&result=1

http://blog.nationalarchives.gov.uk/blog/rosa-may-billinghurst-suffragette-campaigner-cripple/

https://www.catfordcentral.com/rosa-may-billinghurst-suffragette-and-womens-rights-activist/

https://inews.co.uk/news/uk/rosa-may-billinghurst-disabled-suffragette-abused-police-force-fed-prison/