16th Oct 2015 4:00pm-5:30pm
115 Mayfield House, Falmer Campus
One of the major narratives of the postwar period has been the story of upward mobility. This talk traces the response of women writers and the position of the ‘clever girl’. The focus is on a vocabulary of ‘chance’, ‘choice’ and ‘luck’ and concentrates on three historical moments: the mid-1950s in the novels of AS Byatt and Margaret Drabble; the mid-1970s in the autobiographical fiction of Andrea Levy and Janice Galloway; and the post-millennial period in the work of Zadie Smith and Ella Hickson. The talk concludes with a consideration of Lauren Berlant’s concept of ‘cruel optimism’ and its relevance to the current state of social mobility.
Mary Eagleton was, formerly, Professor of Contemporary Women’s Writing at Leeds Beckett University, UK. She has published extensively on twentieth and twenty-first century women’s writing, including Figuring the Woman Author in Contemporary Fiction (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005) and essays on, among others, Doris Lessing, A.S. Byatt, Margaret Drabble, Hilary Mantel, Carol Shields, Margaret Atwood, Alice Walker, Diana Athill, Emma Tennant and Zadie Smith. She has also published work on feminist literary theory and feminist literary history. Forthcoming are chapters in Peter Boxall and Bryan Cheyette (eds) The Oxford History of the Novel in English (Oxford University Press) and Clare Hanson and Susan Watkins (eds), The History of British Women’s Writing, 1945-75 Vol. 9 (Palgrave Macmillan). Mary Eagleton is the founding Chair of the Contemporary Women’s Writing Association (the-cwwa.org) and the founding co-editor of the Oxford University Press journal, Contemporary Women’s Writing (oxfordjournals.org).
This event is free and open to all