Kerry Myler wins the Doris Lessing Society Graduate Student Essay Prize!
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.
Many thanks to the students and recent graduates who entered our Undergraduate and Graduate Student Essay Contests. The winners will be announced at the Annual General Meeting of the Doris Lessing Society at the Modern Languages Convention in Boston in January 2013.
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!
The Doris Lessing Society invites students from the undergraduate, graduate and Doctoral levels to compete in this year’s Student Essay Contest!
All winners will receive a free year of membership to the Society and the winning essay in the graduate category will be considered for publication in Doris Lessing Studies. This is a great opportunity to get your paper published in a peer-reviewed journal! Students may submit work independently or be nominated by professors. We are also accepting recent graduates (those who have graduated no earlier than 2010).
For more details on submission requirements, please see our Student Essay Contest page.