The Transatlantic Literary Women Series is a project ran by Dr Laura Rattray and three female English & American literature students at the university. Funded by the British Association of American Studies and the US Embassy in London, the series aims to engage with the works of literary women from both sides of the Atlantic by discussing and analysing the cultural, social, and political contexts that underlie these texts and their writer’s lives.
At the launch night on January 16, myself and the other attendees were offered complimentary copies of the series’ first book of discussion – Edith Wharton’s The Custom of the Country (1913). There was a pleasantly surprising number of attendees, and latecomers opted to sit on the floor so as to get a chance to hear the presentation given by Dr Rattray and the students about the series and the events they are planning for the rest of the year. Afterwards, there was time for further conversation with the group over some cheese and wine.
Something that I am personally interested in the series’ inclusion of is intersectionality, as its place in women’s movements is becoming more and more important. As such, I was happy to hear that two of the main themes the series will present work on are women’s suffrage and female writers’ involvement in anti-slavery movements. An intersectional approach to culture and society is crucial in today’s political climate, particularly as we come to terms with the fast-changing global relations we are finding ourselves entrenched in. To look back on the female perspectives given on these relationships over the past two centuries is fundamental in our understanding of the world both today and in the years ahead.
I’m really looking forward to attending the Book Club later this month for a more in-depth discussion on Wharton’s novel and finding out more about the impact female writers had in the 19th and 20th century fights for democracy and equality. For more information on the series’ work and dates of upcoming events, you can either view https://transatlanticladies.wordpress.com, like their facebook page, or follow them on twitter.
[Katie Athwal –@kxthwl]