British Women’s Writing between 1930 and 1960: ‘Influences and Connectivity’

deadline for submissions: 
March 1, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
David Clayton / University of Chichester

A One-day Conference at the University of Chichester. West Sussex. UK
Saturday May 27th 2017
Co-organised by Dr Miles Leeson and David Clayton
Department of English & Creative Writing

The conference aims to extend the discussion of British women’s writing that was initiated at the University of Hull in June 2016.

“Located in the ‘no-man’s land’ recently labelled ‘intermodernism’ by Kristin Bluemel and others, the work of women writers in the period between 1930 and 1960 has been too easily overlooked in assessments of large movements in literature. Situated after the Women’s Suffrage movement, World War One, and high modernism, it remains distinct from the Auden generation, but precedes the appearance of the ‘kitchen sink’, the ‘sexual revolution’, and the woman’s ‘confessional novel’”. Sue Kennedy. University of Hull. 2016

The thirty-year time span in question is characterised by what Claire Seiler has called its ‘middleness’ whereby it confronts the past, and at the same time, anticipates the future. In considering the concepts of influence and connectivity, fiction by women has been well examined for influences from Elaine Showalter’s ‘Big Five’ women who head the canon in what might be called a feminine tradition, unconsciously or this example, from Elizabeth Taylor’s debut novel At Mrs Lippincote’s (1945) which pays conscious homage to one of her great influences:

“One of the best meals I ever ate in my imagination was the boeuf en daube in ‘To the Lighthouse’ said Julia, ‘I see it now and smell it – the great earthenware dish and its’” (she closed her eyes and breathed deeply) “its confusion of savoury brown and yellow meats, and its bayleaves and its wine”.

There is, however, a substantial body of innovative and experimental work by women that deserves rehabilitation and scholarly recognition. To this end the conference will offer a thought-provoking environment in which to consider the influences that acted on women writers of the period, and in what ways they may be connected to Modernist, Intermodernist, and Post-Modernist impulses in addition to following a realist tradition. The conference title is intended to be broad enough to allow for the many varied interpretations which contributors may bring, whilst maintaining an underlying thread of common interest.

Our first confirmed keynote is Emeritus Professor Avril Horner (Kingston University) who will be discussing her forthcoming biography of Barbara Comyns.

We invite abstracts of up to 300 words for papers of no more than 20 minutes or panels of three associated papers to cover a range of women’s fiction, poetry and drama in relation to the conference title ‘Influences and Connectivity’. Please include brief biographical details and email to britwomenwriters3060@chi.ac.uk