Posts tagged “Doris Lessing

new site resource: short Lessing biography

There’s a new page on the site, under the Resources tab: a short but substantial biography of Doris Lessing, written by Society member Linda E. Chown. This biographical essay focuses on the phases of the author’s life from her birth in 1919 to the early 1980s. Chown’s text is not just factual, but also richly sourced with extensive quotations from published Lessing interviews, some of them now rare. Therefore it should be a valuable resource to students and scholars as a serious introductory biography. For insight into the later years, we are all now awaiting the publication of the authorized biography, now being written!


Jenny Diski’s memoirs of life with Doris Lessing

The current issue of the New York Review of Books features a lengthy review, by Hermione Lee, of Jenny Diski’s memoir, In Gratitude, which was published earlier in 2016. Diski died of cancer this spring, just days after the book saw publication in the UK.

96548932-xlarge_transqvzuuqpflyliwib6ntmjwfsvwez_ven7c6bhu2jjnt8Much of the memoir focuses on Diski’s complex relationship with Doris Lessing. After breaking with her parents, Diski lived several years in Lessing’s care, in the author’s London home during the 1960s. Diski went on to a successful writing career from the 1980s forward. On receiving her cancer diagnosis in 2014, Diski began in the London Review of Books a series of essays that in large part explored her memories of Lessing. Published as In Gratitude, the collection is the most substantial literary reflection on Doris Lessing to appear since her death in 2013.

 

For those interested in the reception of Diski’s book — particularly its perspective on Lessing — below are links to a range of notices and reviews, in reverse chronological order. Feel free to submit reviews you think should be listed here by contacting us.

Hermione Lee, “The Triumph of Jenny Diski,” New York Review of Books

Andrea DenHoed, “Jenny Diski’s Way of Seeing Beyond the Story,” New Yorker

Heidi Julavitis, “Jenny Diski’s In Gratitude,” New York Times

Martin Rubin, “Book Review: In Gratitude,” Washington Times

Anne Enright, “Writing against the clock,” Irish Times

Hester Abrams, “Review: In Gratitude,” Jewish Chronicle Online

Marion McLeod, “Book of the Week,” The Spinoff (New Zealand)

Jane Shilling, “Life with Doris: the lesser of two evils,” Daily Mail

Tim Adams, “On death … and Doris,” The Guardian

Writer Jenny Diski dies aged 68, BBC News

Jenny Diski interview by Lynn Barber, The Sunday Times (subscription required)


calls for papers, MLA 2017

The Doris Lessing Society has posted its calls for papers for the 2017 MLA Convention in Philadelphia!

The topic of the Society’s guaranteed session is “Teaching Doris Lessing in the Twenty-First Century.” Given the changes in post-secondary education since Lessing’s canonization in the US academy with novels like The Golden Notebook, what do we teach when we teach Doris Lessing now, and how (and to whom) do we teach? This session may run in the roundtable format (briefer presentations, more discussion), depending on the number of qualified submissions. Deadline and contact details can be viewed here.

The topic of the special session the Society will propose is “Twentieth-Century Women Writers and the Formalist Turn.” This panel proposes to ask, how will the “formalist turn” in literary studies affect or shape the interpretation of, and new scholarly work on, twentieth-century women writers? Has it already? The “formalist turn” is a topic alluded to often in recent discussions of the state of the field, with the sense that a shift is occurring, taking literary study away from the historicist and contextualist styles of interpretation that have been dominant for the past several decades. The status of this turn, and whether it’s anything new, are naturally in question. Still, at this juncture it seems worth thinking about how such a turn might transform or shape the study of women writers in particular, in light of how notions of form and formalism have typically been gendered. Doris Lessing’s work, for example, is often criticized for a supposed lack of attention to formal concerns; this then is an occasion to wonder how she, like other women writers, will fare as (or if) the canon of modern writing is reshaped along formalist trajectories. Deadline and contact details can be viewed here.

The topic of a collaborative session the Society will propose with the Margaret Atwood Society is “Boundaries of Life: Ageism and Aging in Works by Margaret Atwood and Doris Lessing.” This session is inspired by the MLA’s 2017 Presidential Theme, “Boundary Conditions.” By focusing on ageism and aging in the works of Atwood and Lessing, two of the twentieth century’s most prolific and influential women writers, this panel aims to explore the ways these writers depict the passing of time in relation to life experiences and self-consciousness. Some questions papers might answer include: What does it mean to come of age? How do age and the aging process affect how we see ourselves? When and how does one become old? How does age discrimination shape societies and individuals? In addition to examining individual works, papers may also look at the authors’ careers more broadly and discuss how their treatment of aging as a theme has changed as they themselves aged. Deadline and contact details can be viewed here.


Start talking about The Fifth Child with the CWWA!

The CWWA (Contemporary Women’s Writing Association) has recently begun a book club, and their first novel is Lessing’s The Fifth Child. Although they have already met to discuss the novel in person, you can listen to the podcast and participate in an online discussion with other Lessing enthusiasts!


The Golden Notebook Reading Guide Now Up!

The Golden Notebook was originally published in 1962 by M. Joseph in London and Simon & Schuster in New York.

Robin Visel has provided us with a reading guide for The Golden Notebook. Her breakdown incorporates useful historical and biographical contextual information, a look at the various novel structures, and some tips for readers.

If you haven’t already checked out our Book Club Readers section, it offers Doris Lessing enthusiasts a place to start discussions and contribute to the society. We currently have two guides up, each tackling the business of reading in separate ways. As mentioned earlier, our newest addition by Robin Visel uses background information and structural explanation to help readers, and Tonya Krouse’s guide for The Good Terrorist provides a series of questions to engage readers with the material.

We are always appreciative of new reading guides and discussion from Doris Lessing readers!


And the winner is… Kerry Myler!

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Kerry Myler wins the Doris Lessing Society Graduate Student Essay Prize!

Congratulations, Kerry!

Kerry Myler is a lecturer in English at Newman University College, Birmingham. Her PhD examined Doris Lessing’s engagement with R. D. Laing and she is currently reworking this into a monograph on Lessing, the anti-psychiatry movement and gendered embodiment. Kerry is an executive member of the Contemporary Women’s Writing Association.

Abstract of Kerry’s winning paper:

This paper reads narratives of motherhood in Lessing’s The Four-Gated City (1969) in terms of R. D. Laing’s The Politics of Experience (1967).  I argue that Lessing uses Laing’s work to rethink discourses of motherhood and madness. These are particularly important because of their fundamental role in maintaining the social order. Discourses of mothering are concerned with the social inheritance of ways of being (that is, ways of ensuring adequate adaption to and acceptance of a modern “mad” world); discourses of madness are concerned with regulating and policing intelligible ways of being (that is, excluding or reabsorbing those who have failed to adapt and accept this “mad” world). The Four-Gated City represents madness and mothering as intimately bound up with one another and the text radically reassesses the “nature” of both in order to imagine a new and better future for humanity. However, unlike Laing, Lessing cannot imagine these changes taking place within existing social structures. The Four-Gated City demonstrates that Laing’s inattention to matters of gendered embodiment, including his conceptualising of the mad as “gender neutral”, limits the usefulness of his theories for the madwoman. In Lessing’s novel the potential of humanity is repeatedly shown to be realised only when the existing social order, including the sex/gender system, is evaded and, ultimately, destroyed.


MLA Convention, Chicago 2014: Doris Lessing Society CFPs

MLA 2014 logo

MLA Convention, Chicago

9 – 12 January, 2014

Call for Papers: Emigres, Expats, and Exiles in Postwar London

This is a call for papers for the Doris Lessing Society guaranteed panel at the 2014 Convention in Chicago from 9 – 12 January, 2014.

When Doris Lessing returned to Britain in 1950 she joined an influx of immigrants to London. Comparative studies welcomed. 250 word abstracts and brief bios by 14 March 2013; Alice Rachel Ridout (alice.ridout@algomau.ca or DorisLessingSociety@gmail.com)

Call for Papers: Doris Lessing and D. H. Lawrence

This is a call for papers for a joint allied association panel at the 2014 MLA Convention in Chicago from 9 – 12 January, 2014.

Lessing’s reading of “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” as an anti-war novel suggests important intertextual relations between these authors. 250-word abstracts and bio by 10 March 2013. Alice Rachel Ridout (dorislessingsociety@gmail.com) and Holly Laird (holly-laird@utulsa.edu).

Call for Participation: Learned Society Journals: Challenges and Opportunities in the Twenty-First Century

This is a call for participation in a roundtable the Doris Lessing Society is proposing for the 2014 MLA Convention in Chicago from 9 – 12 January, 2014.

What challenges and opportunities do learned society journals face in the twenty-first century? Bios and 250-word abstracts for roundtable talks by 11 March 2013; Alice Rachel Ridout (alice.ridout@algomau.ca or DorisLessingSociety@gmail.com)


Call for Papers: Doris Lessing and D. H. Lawrence at the MLA Convention 2014

This is a call for papers for a joint allied association panel at the 2014 MLA Convention in Chicago from 9 – 12 January, 2014.

Lessing’s reading of “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” as an anti-war novel suggests important intertextual relations between these authors. 250-word abstracts and bio by 10 March 2013. Alice Rachel Ridout (dorislessingsociety@gmail.com) and Holly Laird (holly-laird@utulsa.edu).

For further details, please see the MLA website.


Doris Lessing Society Annual General Meeting

wine-and-cheese

The Doris Lessing Society Annual General Meeting will be held in the Sheraton Hotel (room tba in the Doris Lessing panel) on Friday, 4 January at 8:30pm. All are welcome. Wine and cheese will be served. Please email DorisLessingSociety@gmail.com with any questions.


Official launch of the new Doris Lessing Society website!

We are pleased to announce the official launch of the new Doris Lessing Society website! This website has many new and exciting resources to offer both Society members and common readers.

Society members will find an updated membership list, complete information regarding issues of Doris Lessing Studies, bibliographies of Lessing scholarship, a centralized location for relevant CFPs, and a Members’ Blog with which to share experiences and ideas. In addition, we have continued to offer much of the information accessible through the old website, including past conference programs, information from MLA panels, and AGM minutes. Other great  new resources include reading guides for book clubs, links to interviews with Doris Lessing, and links to other literary societies of interest.

Please consider following the Doris Lessing Society via email (which you can opt to do using the button on the sidebar of the website). This is especially useful for members if you would like to be immediately notified of the latest Society news (including – but not limited to – MLA panels and calls for papers). If you are not a member, joining the Doris Lessing Society is easier than ever! Benefits of membership and instructions for joining are available through the menu at the top of the website.

Thank you to all who made the new website possible and to those who have created, developed and maintained past Doris Lessing Society websites for so many years. Enjoy!


Panel details for the MLA Convention

MLA 2013: BostonThe Doris Lessing Society is organizing two sessions at the 2013 MLA Convention in Boston.

Please join the discussion. All are welcome!

Thursday, 03 January

98. Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook: Fifty Years On
3:30-4:45pm, Beacon G., Sheraton

Program arranged by the Doris Lessing Society
Presiding: Sandra Singer, University of Guelph

  1. “Going on Fifty: The Golden Notebook as Roman à Clef.” Roberta Rubenstein, American University
  2. “Feminism and Its Critique in The Golden Notebook, Then and Now.” Josna E. Rege, Worcester State University
  3. “Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook and Chick Lit.” Alice Rachel Ridout, Algoma University

Saturday, 05 January

506. “In Other Worlds”: Atwood and Lessing’s Speculative Fiction
12:00-1:15pm, Beacon G., Sheraton

Program arranged by the Doris Lessing Society and the Margaret Atwood Society
Presiding: Cornelius Collins, Fordham University, Bronx

  1. “‘Watch Out for Art’: Science, Fiction, and Storytelling in Atwood’s Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood.” Eric Aronoff, Michigan State University
  2. “Lessing and Atwood’s Dystopic Fictions.” Sharon R. Wilson, University of Northern Colorado
  3. “Narrative Possibility in the Speculative Fictions of Margaret Atwood and Doris Lessing.” Lauren J. Lacey, Edgewood College

For abstracts, see our Current MLA panels page. For registration information about the MLA Convention, please visit http://www.mla.org/convention.


New CFP – Edited Book on Literature by British Women Authors

Fay Weldon in Copenhagen (photo by Mogens Engelund)

Fay Weldon at a book fair in Copenhagen, November 2008. She is being interviewed by Lone Kühlmann. This photo was originally taken by Mogens Engelund.

This is a call for papers to be published in an edited book on the rise of “feminist” literature in the postwar period. The editors are particularly interested in how British women authors have responded to patriarchal practices. This book will explore how the work of women writers like Doris Lessing, Muriel Spark, Angela Carter, Iris Murdoch, Margaret Drabble, Sarah Grand, Mary Cholmondely, Olive Schreiner, Hilary Mantel, Michele Roberts, Joanna Trollope, Fay Weldon and Jeanette Winterson (among others) has challenged the hegemonic practices of a gender-biased society.

DEADLINE: November 1st, 2012

Submissions are to be sent to editors Dr. Vivekanand Jha and Ajit Kumar at beditors@yahoo.com. For more details on submission requirements, please consult our CFPs page!


New CFP – Twentieth-Century Women’s Utopian and Dystopian Fiction

DEADLINE FOR PROPOSALS: June 15th, 2012

DEADLINE FOR ESSAYS: September 15th, 2012

This is a call for papers in regards to a book collection for possible publication by Cambridge Scholars Press.

Suggested themes: how utopian and dystopian fictions create new worlds; issues of genre and the politics of genre; critiques of gender roles, traditions, and values

Possible authors: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Octavia Butler, Monique Wittig, Marge Piercy, Keri Hulme, Doris Lessing, Margaret Atwood

Final essays are to be 20-30 pages long. Writers from around the world will be considered but texts considered must be available in English and the essay submitted must be written in English.

Please submit a CV and a 500-word abstract to Sharon Wilson at sharon.wilson@unco.edu.


New CFP – The Aesthetics of Debt in Doris Lessing’s Fiction

The Midwest Modern Languages Association (M/MLA) is now accepting submissions for its 54th Annual Convention, taking place in Cincinnati, Ohio from November 8-11, 2012. The M/MLA is a non-profit organization of teachers and scholars of literature, language and culture.

Hilton Cincinnati Netherlands Plaza Hotel

This historic Hilton hotel will be the site for the upcoming MMLA convention.

The Aesthetics of Debt in Doris Lessing’s Fiction

This panel seeks papers examining Doris Lessing’s critiques of Marxism and capitalism, characters’ anxieties about making ends meet, the relationship between debt and colonialism, and/or Lessing’s concerns about the relationship between aesthetics and economics.

Chair: Tonya Krouse, Northern Kentucky University
To submit, please send 250-word abstracts to Tonya Krouse at krouset@nku.edu.

DEADLINE: July 2nd

To see other current Calls for Papers, check the CFPs page.