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Saturday, November 24, 2012

RA Session // Moments of Suspension, Moments of Transition (Nov 30)

Simone de beauvoir Institute - Upcoming Presentation, Nov. 30

Moments of Suspension, Moments of Transition:
Liminality in the Writings of Katherine Mansfield and Elizabeth Bowen
Emma Short (Newcastle University)

Friday, November 30, 2012 at 2pm
SdBI lounge

(2170 Bishop) MU 203


Writing to her cousin from her room at Queen’s College, London,
Katherine Mansfield recounts a teacher’s dismissal of her as ‘a little
savage from New Zealand,’ thus recognizing the way in which her
colonial status precludes her from truly belonging either to her
now-distant birthplace, or to the Imperial centre of London. As an
Anglo-Irish writer, the site of Elizabeth Bowen’s home is similarly
uncertain. Neither English nor Irish, but a hybrid of both, she, like
Mansfield, does not belong to either country, existing instead in an
unstable, liminal sphere. Bowen’s admiration for Mansfield is
well-documented, and while Bowen was undoubtedly influenced by
Mansfield’s style, technique and talent, this paper foregrounds a
deeper connection between the two authors in their shared, fractured
histories, and in the effect that this had on their writing. Charting
the persistence of in-between spaces across the work of Mansfield and
Bowen, this paper considers the way in which the use of such spaces by
the two writers not only signifies their shared histories of hybridity
and dislocation, but also enables them to interrogate the shifting
existence of women in modernity. Critical work on the respective
output of these writers has noted their fascination with the liminal
spaces of everyday existence (Smith [1999]; Ellmann [2003]).
Staircases, windows, hallways and corridors haunt the fiction of both
authors, alongside the larger, more complex spaces of the hotel and
the boarding-house which exist in between the public chaos of
modernity and the private confines of the domestic. Through engagement
with readings of modernist female subjectivity (Gan [2009]) and with
postcolonial theories of exile and belonging (George [1996]), this
paper reveals the dialogues operating across the writings of Mansfield
and Bowen through the spaces of the in-between.

Emma is the Network Facilitator for the Leverhulme International
Network Approaching War: Childhood Cultures and the First World War,
1880-1920, and a part-time tutor at Newcastle University. She
completed her Ph.D. at Newcastle University in early 2012. Her current
research explores the relationship between subjectivity and space in
women’s written representations of travel in the early twentieth
century. She has published several chapters on the hotel and women’s
travel. She is also co-editor of The Female Figure in Contemporary
Historical Fiction (Palgrave, 2012).


Friday, 7 December, 2012 at 2 p.m.

Queering Georgette Heyer
Dr Stacy Gillis

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