Welcome to the Doris Lessing Society!

This is a sad time for scholars, readers, and teachers of Doris Lessing's work. The passing of Doris Lessing peacefully in her sleep on the morning of Sunday, 17 November 2013 at the age of 94 caused many of our members grief. She had, as my grandfather used to say, "a good innings." Many of the obituaries that reported the news of her death drew attention to the incredible world changes she lived through. Indeed, the places of her birth and upbringing changed so much in her lifetime that their very names have changed (Persia, where Lessing was born became Iran, and Southern Rhodesia, where she was brought up, is now Zimbabwe). Her ability to comment so insightfully on the changes she lived through is at the heart of her contribution to literature and culture. The obituaries also made generous use of the word "truculent" and referred repeatedly to her famous exclamation of "Oh, Christ!" to the news of her receipt of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2007. However, in my private conversations with readers and scholars of Doris Lessing what I have heard repeatedly is how generously and sympathetically her work helped them to make sense of the world or to recover from a difficult experience. As Lessing herself states in "The Small Personal Voice," "Artists are the traditional interpreters of dreams and nightmares, and this is no time to turn our backs on our chosen responsibilities, which is what we should be doing if we refused to share in the deep anxieties, terrors, and hopes of human beings everywhere." I hope that this website provides an online space for scholars and teachers to communicate with each other in productive and supportive ways to continue the endless project of reading Doris Lessing. Please make this website your own by submitting a bio for the Current Members’ page, contributing to the Members’ Blog, and using the contact information provided of other members to share ideas and projects. Our reading notes for Book Club Readers will also enable Lessing scholars to share their expertise with what Virginia Woolf so famously called the “common reader,” making this website a wonderful resource for all kinds of readers of Lessing. ~ Alice Ridout; January, 2014; President, Doris Lessing Society


CFP: Doris Lessing Society Panels at the MLA Convention, January 2015, Vancouver

Doris Lessing and Canada
Inviting papers exploring Doris Lessing’s Canadian connections. Comparative studies with Canadian authors and papers on CBC lectures series, “Prisons We Choose,” welcome. Abstracts (250-350 words) and bios by 14 March 2014; Alice Rachel Ridout (dorislessingsociety@gmail.com).

Doris Lessing: Negotiating Sites of Memory
We are in the process of memorializing Lessing and her own work offers multiple insights into memory. Bios and abstracts (250 words) for roundtable by 14 March 2014; Alice Rachel Ridout (dorislessingsociety@gmail.com).

CFP: special issue of Doris Lessing Studies: Émigrés and Exiles: Doris Lessing in Postwar London

Doris Lessing Studies is seeking papers for a special issue, “Émigrés and Exiles: Doris Lessing in Postwar London.” We invite papers about Lessing’s life and work in the 1950s, when she joined an influx of immigrants to London. Comparative studies welcomed.
Please send 10-to-15-page MLA-style papers to the issue’s co-editors Robin Visel (
rvisel@gmail.com ) and Terry Reilly (tjreilly@alaska.edu) by May 1, 2014.

A final reminder…

Just us at the MLA Convention, Chicago!

9 – 12 January, 2014


The Doris Lessing Society has organized a special event to mark the passing of Doris Lessing. All are welcome. Cash bar and refreshments.

Doris Lessing Memorial

Saturday, 11 January, 8:45–10:00 p.m.,

Chicago G, Chicago Marriott

The Society’s Annual General Meeting will be held immediately after this special event.

Doris Lessing Society panel:

Sunday, 12 January

694. Émigrés, Expats, and Exiles: Doris Lessing in Postwar London

8:30–9:45 a.m.; Chicago G, Chicago Marriott

Program arranged by the Doris Lessing Society

1. “‘Unanchored Fragments of Print’: Lessing’s Experiments with Drama and Poetry in the Late 1950s,” Nick Bentley, Keele Univ.

2. “Of Pigeons and Expats: Doris Lessing, Sam Selvon, and Zadie Smith,” Alice Rachel Ridout, Algoma Univ.

3. “Doris Lessing and Moidi Jokl: A Reassessment,” Terry Reilly, Univ. of Alaska, Fairbanks

4. “Lessing’s First Postwar London Novel: Retreat to Innocence,” Robin E. Visel, Furman Univ.

Doris Lessing Society roundtable:

Friday, 10 January

197. Learned Society Journals: Challenges and Opportunities in the Twenty-First Century

8:30–9:45 a.m.; Mayfair, Sheraton Chicago

Program arranged by the Doris Lessing Society

Presiding: Alice Rachel Ridout, Algoma Univ.

Speakers: Martha J. Cutter, Univ. of Connecticut, Storrs; Betty Leigh Hutcheson, College Art Assn.; Sheri Spaine Long, Univ. of North Carolina, Charlotte; David Lee Miller, Univ. of South Carolina, Columbia; Karma Waltonen, Univ. of California, Davis

This roundtable will focus on learned society journals and will consider the journal within this context. Participants will consider matters beyond the strictly editorial, addressing issues such as the function of journals in relation to societies’ membership, the transition to electronic publication, and the place of journals in learned societies’ finances

Here is a more detailed description of the roundtable.

Details about how to register to attend the MLA Convention are available on the MLA website: http://www.mla.org/convention

Doris Lessing Society Annual General Meeting at the MLA Convention

The Annual General Meeting will be held immediately after the Memorial for Doris Lessing.


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