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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TLW/CAS Event: Conniving and Surviving: Barbara Stanwyck, Bette Davis, and 1930s Movies (Sept 26th,University of Glasgow)

Please join us for a joint Centre for American Studies/TLW talk on Wednesday 26 September 2018 at 5.15 at the University of Glasgow.

Our speaker is Professor Donna M. Campbell (Washington State University) who will be discussing “conniving and surviving” women in 1930s movies. Full details below. The talk will take place in room 202, 4 University Gardens at 5.15, with wine, soft drinks and snacks available from 5. This is a free event, generously supported by a BAAS/US Embassy Small Programme Grant. Everyone welcome!

Conniving and Surviving: Barbara Stanwyck, Bette Davis, and 1930s Movies

Donna M. Campbell (Washington State University)

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Since their beginnings in the early 1900s, mainstream Hollywood movies have been a perennially faithful barometer of gender norms and expectations for women, both reflecting and shaping the attitudes of U. S. culture as a whole. By the early 1930s, the vamps, flappers, and vixens of the 1920s began to fade from the screen along with the cult of youth and exuberant sexuality that pervaded movies such as It, Flaming Youth, and Our Dancing Daughters. In their place were women, no longer “girls,” whose response to the catastrophic economic times of the Great Depression was to seize control of their lives and bodies by any means necessary, from the canny conniving, played for humor, of the golddigger to the intense, driven women fighting for survival played by two leading actresses at Warner Brothers, Barbara Stanwyck and Bette Davis.

Stanwyck’s and Davis’s careers spanned the early years of sound film through the television miniseries, yet in their career peak of the 1930s and 1940s, they epitomized women who would do whatever it took to survive in films such asBaby Face, Jezebel, and Double Indemnity as well as adaptations of fiction by writers such as Edna Ferber (So Big), Edith Wharton (The Old Maid), and Willa Cather (A Lost Lady). Their characters operating in survival mode mirrored the desperation of the real women who flocked to see the movies of Stanwyck and Davis, offering extreme solutions but also a sense of self-worth that countered cultural anxieties during the worst economic era of the twentieth century.

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Donna M. Campbell is a professor of English at Washington State University. Her most recent book is Bitter Tastes: Literary Naturalism and Early Cinema in American Women’s Writing (University of Georgia Press, 2016), and her work on women writers and on film has appeared in Legacy, Journal of Popular Culture, Studies in American Fiction, American Literary Realism, Edith Wharton in Context, Edith Wharton and Cosmopolitanism, and The Cambridge History of the American Novel. Her current projects include a critical edition of Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth in the 30-volume Oxford University Press edition of the Complete Works of Edith Wharton, a series for which she is associate editor.

 

“Out of the Shadows”: Forgotten Transatlantic Women Roundtable Discussion

Tuesday 29thMay, 1.30pm, The Kelvin Hall seminar room, free.

It’s a beautiful day in Glasgow, we hope that all our followers have had a chance to get out in the sunshine. Here at TLW HQ the weather has been getting us excited for conference season, and so today we bring you a short post about the TLW Roundtable discussion which we will be hosting at the Glasgow University College of Arts PG Conference on Tuesday the 29thMay.

Laura will be introducing our roundtable discussion by speaking about why she started the Transatlantic Literary Women series. She will also be looking at two forgotten literary women who were overshadowed by male partners or family members: Zelda Fitzgerald and Alice James, as well as Edith Wharton. Sarah will be focusing on Polish-born, Jewish-American writer, Anzia Yezierska and Nella Larsen. She will also exploring how BAME women scholars have recovered forgotten writing, and how essential it is for universities to include diverse curricula. Finally, Saskia will be covering Brazillian writer, Clarice Lispector and African American author, documentary-maker and social activist Toni Cade Bambara.

In addition to the TLW Roundtable, the conference will be hosting a range of excellent keynote speakers and workshops. On Tuesday 29th Dr. Michelle Keown, Senior Lecturer in English Literature (University of Edinburgh), will be kicking off the conference with her keynote address. Wednesday 30thwill see Glasgow University’s own Dr. Benjamin White start the day with his keynote talk ‘Animals in displacement,’ and workshops on Sign Language and Creative Writing. The conference also has a wide and diverse range of papers being presented by an array of panellists over the course of the two days.

We look forward to seeing you all at the roundtable on the 29th, and to the fascinating discussions that will ensue from exploring the achievements of these forgotten women writers.

You can register for the event here (registrations closes on the 17th May), and also head over to the Connections Conference website to see the full programme that the committee have lined up for us, it looks like a great couple of days!

Kari

 

 

 

 

Suffragette Spotlight: Annie Kenney

Ahead of our upcoming Suffrage Centenary Celebration at the People’s Palace Museum (26th and 27th May 1-4pm), the TLW team have been posting weekly blogs about inspiring women who fought for suffrage. Today’s blog focuses on Annie Kenney.

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“As I was one of the leading actors in the first play, so I was one of the leading actors in the last.”
— Annie Kenney, Memories of a Militant

Kenney was born in 1879 to a working-class family near Oldham, and Marie Roberts describes her as “the most readily identifiable representative of working-class women” in the Women’s Social and Political Union (xi). One of eleven children, Kenney went to work in a local cotton-mill when she was ten years-old. Starting out as a ‘half-timer,’ she would work in the morning before going to school in the afternoon. At thirteen years-old she switched to full-time employment in the mill, undertaking shifts as long as twelve hours. It was in this role as a weaver’s assistant that Kenney had one of her fingers torn off.

Kenney continued to work in the mill for 15 years, during which time she helped fellow workers to read, and take an interest in literature. She became involved in the trade union movement, and throughout her life was heavily influenced by Robert Blatchford, the English campaigner and journalist who launched an affordable weekly socialist newspaper called The Clarion.

In 1905, as a member of the Oldham Clarion Vocal Club, Kenney heard Christabel Pankhurst speak. This inspired her to join the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), founded by the Pankhurst family in 1903. In the same year that Kenney joined the WSPU she attended a Liberal rally in Manchester with Christabel, where they repeatedly interrupted Sir Edward Grey to question whether women would be given the right to vote. The two women were removed and later imprisoned for the alleged assault of the police officers who ejected them from the rally. Kenney was imprisoned for three days, the first of thirteen prison sentences throughout her life. In 1913 she was sentenced to a lengthy 18-months which was temporarily interrupted by her release under the Cat and Mouse Act.

Christabel Pankhurst fled to Paris in 1912 to avoid imprisonment, and Kenney was placed in charge of the WSPU in her absence, demonstrating the high degree of influence which she held in the organisation. When the Representation of the People Act was passed in 1918 it granted women over the age of 30 the right to vote if they passed certain property and education requirements. After partial suffrage had been won, Kenney dropped out of political life. She married and gave birth to her son in 1923, and published her autobiography the following year.

Many feel that Kenney’s efforts in the fight for the vote have been “undeservedly neglected,” (Roberts, xv) and this often relates to a further belief held by some that working-class efforts for women’s suffrage have also been overlooked. Krista Cowman voices this in her 2018 article for the New Statesman, stating that “When women finally got the vote, the stories of many working class suffragettes were quickly forgotten. Few of them had the time or contacts needed to publish autobiographies and most could not afford to travel to London for the meetings of the Suffragette Fellowship, a militant old girls’ association that tried to preserve their campaign’s history. As we celebrate the centenary of the Representation of the People Act that gave votes to at least some British women in February 1918, we should remind ourselves of the sacrifices made by many ordinary and anonymous women, who risked their livelihoods and reputations alongside their more affluent companions in the fight for equality and citizenship.”

In exploring the various women to cover for the Suffragette Spotlight series, Kenney seemed a particularly fitting figure as she is an inspirational woman both within and without the context of female suffrage. For a generation of young women today, many of whom have experienced a setback in the age that they can hope to reach traditional life-milestones such as starting a career, a family, or buying property, Kenney is an example of someone who refused to let her age, class, gender, or finances, restrict her aspirations and achievements in life. She became a member of the WSPU when she was in her mid–twenties; arguably her greatest life achievement of helping win women’s suffrage was reached when she was in her late thirties, and she was in her early forties before she married and started a family. Despite having to start work at only ten years-old, she succeeded in educating herself through self-study and correspondence courses – encouraging fellow working-class women to do the same – and reached leadership status in the predominantly middle-class led organisation of the WSPU. She experienced the physical consequences of the dangerous working-conditions in Britain in the late-nineteenth and early twentieth century, but also helped ensure that future generations would have the opportunity to change these conditions by voting for their chosen representatives in government. Kenney exists as both a historical hero who was willing to sacrifice a great deal for a cause she believed in, but also as a rousing reminder that if a woman from her humble background could achieve so much, over a century ago, women today need not let their own goals be limited by the societal expectations which are often imposed on them.

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!

Kari
References and further reading

Kenney, Annie. Memories of a Militant. London, Edward Arnold & Co., 1924.

Roberts, Marie, and Tamae Mizuta. Perspectives on the History of British Feminism. Routledge/Thoemmes, London, 1994.

Cowman, Krista. “Let’s not forget the working class suffragettes” in New Statesman, 6 February 2018.

Information on Kenney can also obtained from the Working Class Movement Library.

The British Newspaper Archive gives access to articles which mention Kenney.

The Annie Kenney Project is an ongoing campaign to have a statue of Kenney erected in Oldham town square.

Picture courtesy of LSE Library.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Forgotten Transatlantic Literary Women: February Book Chat and New Year Reading List

Hello!

As announced in our previous post, we would like to start 2018 by celebrating overlooked texts by transatlantic literary women, and we would love for you to get involved. In February, we will run another #TLWBookChat dedicated to forgotten texts. it will go by the hashtag #ForgottenTLW. This discussion will broadly tackle issues of history, and memory, in relation to women authors. We will be talking about neglected texts by famous women writers, but also (and especially) about transatlantic authors whose work has somehow been overlooked. What has prevented those women from gaining literary fame? Why are some texts privileged over others? To prepare for this discussion, we will post several blogs about neglected transatlantic literary women. We would also like to ask you to make a case for a forgotten text or writer that you think would deserve to be in the limelight! You can send us your posts at transatlantic.women@gmail.com by the end of February, along with a short bio! We will publish contributions as we receive them.

To kick off this series, we come to you with some suggestions of books to read ahead of our discussion! We compiled a list of neglected texts by women writers from both sides of the Atlantic to give you some reading ideas. While some names will probably have a familiar ring to them, we tried to choose slightly less canonical titles for this list, and we also hope that you’ll be in for some discoveries…

1) Simone de Beauvoir (1908 – 1986), America Day by Day (1948)

As if the influence of her landmark analysis of femininity, The Second Sex (Le Deuxième Sexe), was not enough of a claim to transatlantic fame, Simone de Beauvoir also spent several months in America in 1947. Her travel diary, America Day by Day, published in 1948, recounts her impressions of the country, from New York to Los Angeles and Chicago, where she met her lover Nelson Algren. Published two years before The Second Sex, the text poses Beauvoir as ‘an intuitive sociologist’ and ‘a voyeur of America’s transient underbelly’ in the words of critic Douglas Brinkley.

2) Leonora Carringon (1917 – 2011), The Débutante and Other Stories: Selected Short Stories

Leonora Carrington has become one of our favourite transatlantic literary women. She was a genuine adventurer, who seemed to have spent her life eschewing titles, however glamorous – rich English débutante or Surrealist Muse -, to dedicate herself to her artistic career. After growing up in England and escaping to France in her twenties, she moved to Mexico during the Second World War to become an influential artist and a member of the Women’s Liberation Movement of Mexico. This edition of her short stories includes translations from French and Spanish, as well as some stories originally published in English. The titular story portrays a young woman’s attempt to escape her bal by sending a hyena in her place. Perhaps one of Carrington’s best known pieces (along with her novel, The Hearing Trumpet), it is featured among such surreal, oneiric masterpieces as ‘The Oval Lady’, a tragic tale of coming of age and family cruelty, ‘The Sisters’, a strange take on the myth of the woman-vampire, and ‘Jemima and the Wolf’, a stubborn child’s love story with a man who conceals his real animal identity.

3) Silvina Ocampo (1914 – 1999), Thus Were their Faces: Selected Short Stories (ed. 2015)

Silvina Ocampo was the co-editor of the Antología de la literatura fantástica (1940 – translated as The Book of Fantasy), alongside Jorge Luis Borges and Adolfo Bioy Casares. Talent certainly ran in the family – Silvina Ocampo’s sister, Victoria Ocampo, was also a writer and became the founder of the famous publication Sur. At a time of intense intellectual exchange between Argentina and France, Silvina Ocampo travelled to Paris, and worked with artists such as Giorgio de Chirico and Fernand Léger. Her stories have been recently re-edited and anthologized, and are definitely worth a read. And if you are curious, but not quite convinced yet, you can even read one of the texts included in the collection here.

4) Jumpa Lahiri (1967 – ), In Other Words (In Altre Parole) (2016, trans. Ann Goldstein)

Born in London of Indian parents, raised in America, Jumpa Lahiri gives us the opportunity to talk about a country we have only rarely mentioned since the beginning of the project – Italy. After a Pulitzer prize for Interpreter of Maladies (2000) and publishing, among other works, The Namesake (2003), which was adapted into a movie, Lahiri decided to start writing in Italian, a language she had been drawn to for years. Her memoir, In Other Words, is the fruit of her experimentation with the language. You can also read this essay written for the New Yorker, in which she describes the delight and vertigo of speaking and writing in another tongue.

5) Una M. Marson (1905 – 1965), Pocomania and London Calling (ed. 2017)

The works of Jamaican poet and dramatist Una M. Marson were recommended to us by one of our attendees. A radical intellectual, political activist, and influential artist, whose writing paints her experience of racism in vivid words, She created Cosmopolitan, a publication to promote the work of stenographers, and championed black and African aesthetics, affirming the beauty of darks skins and unstraightened hair, a long time before such debates had surfaced fully in the feminist movement. Among countless other achievements, Una Marson was also the first black woman to work as a producer for the BBC, creating Calling the West Indies, a programme dedicated to Caribbean writers. You can listen to a radio programme dedicated to her work here. During her life, Una M. Marson published poetry collections (Tropic Reveries, 1930, Heights and Depths, 1931) and plays, two of which are included in this new edition!

6) Denise Levertov, Collected Poems (ed. 2013)

Denise Levertov perfectly encapsulates the experience of displacement linked with living at the crossroads of different cultures: ‘Among Jews a Goy, among Gentiles … a Jew or at least a half-Jew … among Anglo-Saxons a Celt; in Wales a Londoner … among schoolchildren a strange exception whom they did not know whether to envy or mistrust.’ Born in England, Denise Levertov was to become a renowned poet and peace advocate in the United States, who travelled to Mexico and Vietnam. In the words of critic Drew Calvert, talking about her poetry of the 1960s: “She imagined stabbing Henry Kissinger, throwing napalm in Nixon’s face. She channeled Neruda’s call for people to “come and see the blood in the streets.”” Such fantasies, however, coexisted with Levertov’s spiritual preoccupations – an apparent contrast reflected in her recently published Collected Poems.

7) Louise Erdrich (1954 – ), The Master Butchers Singing Club (2003)

In The Master Butchers Singing Club, Native American writer Louise Erdrich portrays the lives of German migrants settled in America, and the comings and goings between the two continents from the First to the Second World War. Erdrich’s novels frequently portray Native American communities in the United States, and the Transatlantic dimension of her work may not appear immediately. This novel, however, deals with Erdrich’s own European roots and heritage – with the cover of the original edition showing a picture of the author’s own grandfather.

 

8) Zora Neale Hurston (1891 – 1960), Barraccoon (ed. 2018)

We end this list on what is now a TLW household name – as our next book club (which will take place on January 16th, at 5.15pm, in the Gilchrist Postgraduate Club at the University of Glasgow) will be all about her 1937 novel Their Eyes Were Watching God. However if you have not heard of this one yet, fear not, as it will only be published later this year. Barraccoon recounts Zora Neale Hurston’s interviews with Cudjo Lewis who, by the time of their meeting, was the last man alive to be able to tell his experience of the Transatlantic slave trade.

What neglected text by a transatlantic woman writer would you like to see here? Keep an eye on the blog for more suggestions from our team in the next few weeks, and remember:

  1. You have until the end of February to send your posts on a neglected transatlantic woman writer to transatlantic.women@gmail.com.
  2. The next TLW Book Chat, #ForgottenTLW, where we’ll talk specifically about those texts, will be on Wednesday 28 February at 7pm on Twitter.
  3. If you’re in Glasgow, join us on Tuesday 16 January at 5.15pm in the Gilchrist Postgraduate Club for our first book club, where we’ll be discussing Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God.

Warmest wishes,

The TLW Team.

 

Transatlantic Style: The Ocean Liner and the “International Set”

Tuesday 14th November

4 University Gardens, Rooms 202 – 203

Hello everyone,

Those of you who attended our launch in September and our workshop yesterday will remember mention of another exciting talk that we have lined up for this season. On Tuesday 14th November, Glasgow University’s very own Professor Faye Hammill will be presenting ‘Transatlantic style: the ocean liner and the “international set.”’ Ahead of the talk we have some more information about this fantastic topic, along with a short bio of our speaker:

“I mean I always love a ship and I really love the Majestic because you would not know it was a ship because it is just like being at the Ritz.” Lorelei Lee, heroine of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, gives us a perfect description of the globalised style that began to emerge during  the golden age of liner travel. Loos was part of the ‘international set’ – a loose grouping of prominent society and artistic figures, who met one another frequently on voyages and in fashionable resorts during the interwar years. The talk will explore the way liner travel was represented by members of this set, examining texts by Loos, Rebecca West, and others, and relating them to the development of a “transatlantic style” in the textual and visual forms of the era.
Continue reading “Transatlantic Style: The Ocean Liner and the “International Set””