Past Conference Programs

Second International Doris Lessing Conference

Second International Doris Lessing Conference

The Second International Doris Lessing Conference was held in Leeds from July 6-8, 2007. Highlights of the conference include the following: three keynote addresses delivered respectively by noted scholars Virginia Tiger, Dennis Walder, and Clare Hanson; a round table discussion; the performance of a one-woman play by Hilary Kacser, entitled “In Pursuit of the English: Rose” (a dramatization of Lessing’s character Rose Jennings); a reception to celebrate the launch of the journal Contemporary Women’s Writing; and a canal boat trip with commentary by local historian Janet Douglas.

Conference Committee:

  • Susan Watkins, Chair
  • Alice Ridout
  • Mary Eagleton
  • Claire Chambers
  • Anne Wallace
  • Pat Cook
  • Elaine Newsome

Keynote Speakers:

  • Virginia Tiger
  • Dennis Walder
  • Clare Hanson

Opening Remarks:

  • Jonah Raskin
  • Mary Eagleton

Closing Remarks: Susan Watkins

Friday 6 July
Registration and coffee: 10:30am-12:00pm, Northern Terrace
Buffet lunch: 11:30am-1:00pm, Hospitality Suite, Metceno’s
Round Table Discussion and Opening Remarks: 1:00pm-2:15pm, Room 118

Round Table Discussion: “The Woman Author: Personal and Figurative”
Chair: Susan Watkins

Opening Remarks

  1. “Doris Lessing: Personal Reflections from Five Decades,” Jonah Raskin
  2. “Writing Grandmothers,” Mary Eagleton

1a. Eco-Criticism and Marxism
2:30pm-3:30pm, Room 117
Chair: Ruth Robbins; Emma Robertson (Leeds Metropolitan University)

  1. “Not Just Environmental Fables: the Eco-politics of Lessing’s ‘Ifrikan’ Novels,” Fiona Becket
  2. “Housing and Satire of Marxism: The Good Terrorist and Walking in the Shade,” Sally Jacobsen

1b. Lessing’s Children
2:30pm-3:30pm, Room 119
Chair: Lucie Armitt, Member of Contemporary Women’s Writing Network Steering Group

  1. “Reforming the Grotesque in Lessing’s The Fifth Child,” Kathryn Carson
  2. “Lessing’s Fantastic Children,” Roberta Rubinstein

Tea/Coffee Break: 3:50pm-4:50pm, Room G14

First Keynote Address: “On the Matter of Beginnings and the Manner of Endings” by Virginia Tiger
3:50pm-4:50pm, Room 118
Introduced by: Sharon Wilson, President of the Doris Lessing Society

Performance of Hilary Kacser’s “In Pursuit of the English: Rose”: 5:00pm-6:00pm, Room 222 (introduced by Roberta Rubinstein)

Evening Reception to celebrate the launch of Contemporary Women’s Writing: 6:30pm-7:30pm, Old School Board

Informal dinner booking: 8:00pm, Brown’s Restaurant, The Light

Saturday 7 July
Registration: 9:00am, Northern Terrace

Second Keynote Address: “‘Alone in a landscape’: Lessing’s Early African Stories Remembered” by Dennis Walder
9:30am-10:30am, Room 222
Introduced by: Gordon Johnston, Chair, School of Cultural Studies, Leeds Metropolitan University

Tea/Coffee Break: 10:30am-11:00am, Room G14

2a. Aging and Herstory
11:00am-12:00pm, Room 117
Chair: Phyllis Perrakis, Doris Lessing Studies Co-editor

  1. “The ‘Jane Somers’ Hoax: Doris Lessing, Gender, Aging and The Cult of the (Young) Celebrity Woman Writer,” Susan Watkins
  2. “Perpetuating Our Secrets: Ageing and Memory in Doris Lessing’s The Grandmothers,” Maricel Oro Piqueras

2b. Constructions of Masculinity and Heterosexuality in A Proper Marriage and The Grass is Singing
11:00am-12:00pm, Room 119
Chair: Sue Chaplin, Leeds Metropolitan University

  1. “Patriarchy, Masculinity and War within A Proper Marriage,” Benjamin Garrett
  2. “Social Confines and Sexual Roles of Marriage and Marital Sex: Adrienne Rich’s Compulsory Heterosexuality in the Marriages of Doris Lessing’s The Grass is Singing and A Proper Marriage,” Shauna Wilkinson

2c. Madness and Crisis
11:00am-12:00pm, Room 221
Chair: Suzette Henke

  1. “Madness as Cultural Critique in Briefing for a Descent into Hell,” Yuan-Jung Cheng
  2. “The Crisis of Herstory in the Summer Before the Dark,” Aaron Rosenfeld

Buffet Lunch: 12:30pm-2:00pm, Hospitality Suite, Metceno’s

3a. Putting the ‘Woman of Letters’ in her Place: Canon Formation and the Lessing Canon
2:00pm-3:30pm, Room 117
Chair/Organizer: Tonya Krouse, Doris Lessing Society Vice-President

  1. “‘A House Fit for Free Terrorists?’: Doris Lessing, Tradition and the Realist Novel,” Nick Turner
  2. “Theorizing the Universal in Lessing’s The Golden Notebook and Shikasta,” Tonya Krouse

3b. The Politics of Genre
2:00pm-3:30pm, Room 119
Chair/Organizer: Theresa Carter, Metropolitan State College of Denver

  1. “The Politics of Genre,” Theresa Carter
  2. “Reading The Grass is Singing as Detective Fiction,” Swaty Mitra
  3. “Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook: An Experiment in Metacriticism,” Nick Bentley

3c. Eastern and Non-Literary Influences on Lessing
2:00pm-3:30pm, Room 221
Chair: Rachel Farebrother, Leeds Metropolitan University

  1. “Eastern Sufism and the Animalistic Nature of Man in the Works of Doris Lessing,” Shahram Kiaee
  2. “‘A Larger Rhythm’: Doris Lessing’s Song and Dance,” Tom Sperlinger
  3. “The Dynamic Choreography of Mandala as a Healing Process in Doris Lessing’s Shikasta,” Ju-Yu Cheng

Tea/Coffee Break: 3:30pm-4:00pm, Room G14

4a. Revaluing Lessing’s Short Fiction
4:00pm-5:30pm, Room 119
Chair/Organizer: Judith Kegan Gardiner

  1. “Landscape and the Anti-Pastoral Critique in Lessing’s African Stories,” Pat Louw
  2. “Why the Stories Aren’t Very Nice: Characters and Readers in Lessing’s Short Fiction,” Judith Kegan Gardiner
  3. “Public versus Private in Doris Lessing’s Short Stories ‘To Room 19’ and ‘How I Finally Lost My Heart’,” Mine Ozyurt Kiliç

4b. Lessing in the 21st Century
4:00pm-5:30pm, Room 221
Chair: Virginia Tiger

  1. “New Worlds, Old Problems: Lessing’s Lifetime of Concerns,” Amanda Cole
  2. “Reconfiguring the New: The Grandmothers (2003) and Time Bites (2004),” Alka Kumar
  3. “Empathetic Bonds: The Balance of Detachment and Identification in ‘The Reason for It’ and The Cleft,” Phyllis Perrakis

Evening Reception sponsored by the Doris Lessing Society
6:30pm-7:30pm, The Metropole Hotel
Included introductory remarks by Sharon Wilson explaining the work of the Doris Lessing Society as well as a Conference Dinner at The Metropole Hotel

Sunday 8 July

5a. Reading Lessing across National Boundaries
9:30am-11:00am, Room 117
Chair: Gillian Roberts, Leeds Metropolitan University

  1. “Doris Lessing as a ‘Third Culture Kid’,” Alice Ridout
  2. “Lessing’s Challenge to National Identity,” Kayoko Saito
  3. “Unruly Rhetoric: the Impolitic Communist Craze in A Ripple from the Storm by Doris Lessing,” Anne-Laure Brevet

5b. Motherhood
9:30am-11:00am, Room 119
Chair: Clare Hanson, Member of Contemporary Women’s Writing Network Steering Group

  1. “Horrors of the Breast: A Kristevan Reading of The Grass is Singing,” Edith Frampton
  2. “Ideals and Institutions: Remaking the Maternal in The Fifth Child and Other Texts,” Ruth Robbins
  3. “Leaving Caroline: The Social Construction of Motherhood in A Proper Marriage,” Linda Seidel

5c. Diaspora and Hybridity
9:30am-11:00am, Room 221
Chair/Organizer: Linda Weinhouse

  1. “Postcolonial Identities in The Golden Notebook,” Sharon R. Wilson
  2. In Pursuit of the English: Hybridity and the Local in Lessing’s First Urban Text,” Christine W. Sizemore
  3. “Re-Mapping Center and Periphery: Lessing’s In Pursuit of the English,” Linda Weinhouse

Tea/Coffee Break: 11:00am-11:30am, Room G14

6a. Lessing and Africa
11:30am-1:00pm, Room 117
Chair: Dennis Walder

  1. “Nostalgic Narratives in Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook,” Victoria Bazin
  2. “The Grass is Still Singing: Lessing’s Influence on Zimbabwean Writing,” Robin Visel
  3. “Rhodesian Children and the Lessons of White Supremacy: Doris Lessing’s ‘The Antheap’,” Julie Cairnie

6b. Terror, Terrorism and the Politics of Science Fiction
11:30am-1:00pm, Room 119
Chair: Claire Chambers, Leeds Metropolitan University

  1. “Still Searching for the ‘Good’ Terrorist: Transcontinental Responses to Terrorism,” Marilyn Dallman Seymour
  2. “Lessing’s Moral Vision in The Canopus in Argos Series,” Eva Masilamony
  3. “Arabian Nights Fairy-tale Turned Postcolonial Parable: Narrative Manoeuvres in Doris Lessing’s Mara and Dann,” Lamia Tayeb

Buffet Lunch: 1:00pm-2:30pm, Hospitality Suite, Metceno’s

Third Keynote Address: “Doris Lessing and Motherhood: Reproducing the Future” by Clare Hanson
2:30pm-3:30pm, Room 118
Introduced by: Mary Eagleton, Leeds Metropolitan University; Chair of Contemporary Women’s Writing Network Steering Group

Closing Remarks: 3:30pm, Room 118

Canal Boat Trip: 4:30pm, followed by informal dinner booking

First International Doris Lessing Conference

First International Doris Lessing Conference

The First International Doris Lessing Conference was held in New Orleans from April 1-4, 2004. The conference began 7pm on Thursday, April 1 with a welcoming reception at the Hampton Hotel in Metarie (15 miles from the French Quarter). Highlights of the conference include the following: a keynote address by noted Lessing scholar Professor Roberta Rubinstein at a catered luncheon at Delgado College (Friday, April 2); a crawfish boil dinner at the College on Friday evening; and a riverboat dinner with a jazz band on Saturday night.

Conference Directors:

  • Debrah Raschke, Southeast Missouri State University
  • Phyllis Perrakis, University of Ottawa
  • Brenda Bryant, Delgado Community College
  • Robin Visel, Furman College

Keynote Speaker: Roberta Rubinstein

Roberta Rubinstein is the author of four books, including the seminal The Novelistic Vision of Doris Lessing: Breaking the Forms of Consciousness. She has published numerous articles and book chapters on modern and contemporary writers and has been the recipient of numerous prestigious awards and honours. Her essay “Feminism, Eros, and the Coming of Age,” which received the MLA Women’s Caucus award for scholarship in 1999, is only one of many impressive honours she has received.

Opening Remarks:

  • Dr. Alex Johnson: Chancellor of Delgado Community College
  • Phyllis Perrakis: Conference Director (University of Ottawa)
  • Debrah Raschke: Conference Director, President of the Doris Lessing Society (Southeast Missouri State University)

Friday, April 2
Continental Breakfast: 6am-10am, Hampton Hotel
Registration: Hampton Inn, Second Floor
Sectional Meetings: Student Life Center, Delgado Community College

1a. Cultural Myth and Cultural Memory
9:00am-10:15am, Bayou St. John
Chair: Terry Reilly, University of Alaska, Fairbanks

  1. The Summer Before the Dark: A Mythical Journey of Rediscovery,” Antoinette F. Winstead, Our Lady of the Lake University, Texas
  2. “Lessing Revises Freud: Memoirs of a Survivor and ‘The Uncanny’,” Marilyn Dallman Seymour, Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature, Book Review Editor
  3. “Ben, the ‘Neanderthal’: Science Fiction and Scientific Exploration in Doris Lessing’s The Fifth Child and Ben, in the World,” Elizabeth Neiman, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
  4. “I’m Just a Storyteller,” Anne Serafin, independent scholar

1b. Courting the Postmodern: Narrative Transgressions: Experiment in Form
9:00am-10:15am, Bayou La Fourche
Chair: Debrah Raschke, Southeast Missouri State University

  1. “Pluralizing the ‘Self’ in The Four-Gated City,” Swaty Mitra, University of Calcutta
  2. “Writing in a Minor Key: Doris Lessing’s Late Twentieth-Century Fiction,” Susan Watkins, Leeds Metropolitan University, UK
  3. “The Insistent Power of Inner-Space Narrative Techniques,” Zachar Laskewicz, NIGHT SHADES music-theatre-language NACHTSHCIMMEN, Belgium
  4. “The Loss of Parody in The Golden Notebook,” Yuan-Jung Cheng, National Sun Yat-sen University, Taiwan

2. Tropes of Place
10:30am-11:45am, Bayou St. John
Chairs: Virginia Tiger, Rutgers University; Clair Sprague, Professor Emeritus, Brooklyn College, CUNY

  1. “Utopian and Dystopian Visions of the City in Lessing’s Works,” Terry Reilly, University of Alaska, Fairbanks; Melissa Ide, independent scholar
  2. “Huts, Houses and the Spaces Between Them in Doris Lessing’s African Stories,” Pat Louw, University of Zululand, South Africa
  3. “Intersecting Spaces in Olive Schreiner and Doris Lessing,” Micki Nyman, Saint Louis University

Luncheon and Keynote: 12:00pm-1:30pm
Lac Maurepas Room

3a. Comparative Lessing
1:45pm-3:00pm, Bayou St. John
Chair: Phyllis Perrakis, University of Ottawa

  1. “Lessing and A.S. Byatt: Writing The Golden Notebook in the 1990s,” Pilar Hidalgo, Malaga University, Spain
  2. “Prophetic Pasts in the Works of Lessing and Atwood,” Amanda Cole, University of Sydney, Australia
  3. “Solitary Soul or Complementary Communion?: Lessing’s The Summer Before the Dark and Chopin’s The Awakening,” Li Jin, Beijing University of Technology, China
  4. “Synergistic Narratives: Politics and Intertextuality in Doris Lessing and Arundhati Roy,” K. Ruth Seaber, Southeast Missouri State University

3b. Africa, Colonialism, Postcolonialism
1:45pm-3:00pm, Bayou La Fourche
Chairs: Linda Weinhouse, Community College of Baltimore County; Anne Serafin, independent scholar

  1. “Doris Lessing and the Land Crisis in Zimbabwe,” Julie Cairnie, University of Guelph, Canada
  2. “Parodying the Colonial Travel Genre: Representations of ‘Home’ in Doris Lessing’s African Laughter: Four Visits to Zimbabwe,” Sarah DeMul, Belle Van Zuylen Institute, UK
  3. “‘Speak up for yourself, now,’ Doris commanded: Postcolonial Literary Legacies in Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions,” Victoria Rosner, Texas A & M University
  4. “The Ironic Journey from the Margin to the Center Reversed: Lessing and Gordimer,” Linda Weinhouse, Community College of Baltimore County

4. Sex, Age, and Commodification
3:15pm-4:30pm, Bayou La Fourche
Chair: Anne Serafin, independent scholar

  1. “Sex after Sixty?: Lessing’s Older Women,” Ruth Saxton, Mills College
  2. “Sacrificial Violence and Excess Expenditure in The Good Terrorist,” Pamela Grieman, University of Southern California
  3. “Appraoches to Individuality,” Carole Laviolette, independent scholar
  4. “The Child is Mother of the Woman: Exchange between Age and Youth in Doris Lessing,” Josna Rege, Dartmouth College

5a. Terrorism and Trauma
4:45pm-6:00pm, Bayou St. John
Chair: Debrah Raschke, Southeast Missouri State University

  1. “The Self-Divided: Doris Lessing’s May Quest,” Rose Marie Cutting, St. Mary’s University, Texas
  2. “Awakening from the Past: Trauma, Recovery, and Evolution in the Works of Doris Lessing,” Jeanie Warnock, University of Ottawa, Canada
  3. “London or Kabul: Assessing the Politics of Political Violence,” Sandra Singer, University of Guelph, Canada

Respondent: Suzette Henke, University of Louisville

5b. Exploring Interior Spaces
4:45pm-6:00pm, Bayou La Fourche
Chair: Ruth Saxton, Mills College

  1. “Finding ‘A Way Outa No Way’: The Golden Notebook as Ecriture Feminine,” Lindsay Merrifield, Lakehead University
  2. “The Devil and Mrs. Jones: Depression’s Other Self and Language in ‘To Room Nineteen’,” Sheryl Stevenson, University of Akron
  3. “Doris Lessing: Authorizing the Self,” Alison Reynolds, Midwestern State University
  4. “Seeking the Other: Gendered Zones and Discontent in Doris Lessing’s The Marriages Between Zones Three, Four, and Five,” Misty McCormick-Chisum, Southeast Missouri State University

Saturday, April 3
Continental Breakfast: 6:00am-10:00am, Hampton Hotel
Registration: Hampton Inn, Second Floor
Sectional Meetings: Student Life Center, Delgado Community College

6. Teaching Lessing
9:30am-10:45am, Bayou St. John
Chair: Ruth Saxton, Mills College

  1. “The Challenges of Teaching Doris Lessing’s Golden Notebook after 9/11/01,” Suzette Henke, University of Louisville
  2. The Fifth Child: A Lesson in What It Means to Be Human,” Joyce Durham, University of Dayton
  3. “Feminist Education in English Literature: Doris Lessing’s ‘A Woman on the Roof’ and The Grass is Singing,” Jeboon Yu, Pusan National University, Korea
  4. “Expected and Unexpected Challenges of Teaching Memoirs and The Fifth Child,” Debrah Raschke, Southeast Missouri State University

7. Lessing and Uses of Memory
11:00am-12:15pm, Bayou St. John
Chair: Roberta Rubinstein, American University

  1. “Flights of Memory: Digression and Allusion in Doris Lessing’s Memoirs of a Survivor,” Anne-Laure Brevet, l’Université de Brest
  2. “House/Mother: Remembering Postwar London,” Robin Visel, Furman University

Respondent: Claire Sprague, Professor Emeritus at City University of New York

Luncheon: 12:15pm-1:30pm
Lac Maurepas Room

8. Narrative Forays
1:45pm-3:00pm, Bayou St. John
Chair: Sandra Singer, University of Guelph, Canada

  1. Love, again, The Interleaved Fictions,” Virginia Tiger, Rutgers University
  2. “Revisiting Reliable Narration: Doris Lessing and the Politics of Perspective,” Linda Chown, Grand Valley State University, Michigan
  3. “‘What is the Function of the Storyteller?’: The Relationship Between Why and How Lessing Writes,” Alice Ridout, University of Toronto, Canada
  4. “Narrative Techniques in Doris Lessing’s Stories,” Ozlem Uzundemir, Baskent University, Turkey

9a. Adventures of the Spirit
3:15pm-4:30pm, Bayou La Fourche
Chair: Paul Schlueter, independent scholar

  1. “The Luminous Face of the Other in Memoirs,” Phyllis Perrakis, University of Ottawa, Canada
  2. “Searching in Exile: Martha Quest in Martha Quest and the Speaker of T.S. Eliot’s ‘Ash Wednesday’,” M. Catherine Burns, Florida Atlantic University
  3. “A Trap in Intelligence: ‘To Room Nineteen’,” Kayoko Saito, Waseda University, Tokyo
  4. “Women and Aging: The Body in Time,” Ratna Raman, Delhi University, India

9b. Lessing and Woolf
3:00pm-4:15pm, Bayou St. John
Chair: Sally Jacobsen, Northern Kentucky University

  1. “‘Anon,’ ‘Free Women,’ and the Pleasures of Impersonality: Writing, Subjectivity, and Sexuality in Woolf and Lessing,” Tonya Krouse, Northern Kentucky University
  2. “A Struggle of Their Own: Women, Marriage, and Writing in The Golden Notebook, Orlando, and A Room of One’s Own,” Kimberly Crowley, University of North Dakota
  3. “‘The Unreal City’: Lessing, Woolf, and their Radical Epistemologies of Place,” Aaron S. Rosenfeld, Iona College, New York
  4. “Lessing’s and Woolf’s Portrayals of Old Ladies and Class Leveling: The Diary of a Good Neighbor and Between the Acts,” Sally Jacobsen, Nothern Kentucky University

River boat dinner: 6:00pm

Closing remarks:

  • Debrah Raschke, Conference Director, President of the Doris Lessing Society
  • Phyllis Perrakis, Conference Director

Sunday, April 4
Continental Breakfast: 6:00am-10:00am, Hampton Hotel


Many thanks to the Delgado Foundation who supplied the refreshments and the Delgado Communication Faculty who provided food. Many thanks as well to Provost Jane Stephens (Southeast Missouri State University) who provided the Shrimp and Crab plates, the Brie wheel and the Rockefeller Pirogues.

Thanks to Kristi Embry (Purdue University), Ruth Seaber (Southeast Missouri State University), and Charles Heam for their help in pre-conference planning. Thanks as well to Dayna Northington (Southeast Missouri State University), Dr. Carol Scates (Department Chari, Southeast Missouri State University), Ginger McCloud, and CSTL (Southeast Missouri State University) for their assistance respectively with mailing preparations, copying of pre-conference materials, facilitating international communications, and web support. Many thanks as well to various members of the Virginia Woolf Society who generously offered their guidance and wisdom in this process.