Wednesday, 24 February 2016

New publication on Agatha Christie

Another publication of  mine has now appeared in print, and I am very pleased about it!  It has been a difficult year, with health problems of various  kinds. But seeing this piece published has reminded me again of all that I value so much about research and writing.

This latest piece developed out of my enthusiasm for reading short stories.  I have a long-standing fascination with the crime short story as a specific literary form, and am interested in investigating the way in which the crime short story has evolved over time as a particular subgenre of crime fiction. This preoccupation of mine led me to reassess Agatha Christie's work. Christie has long been regarded as one of the most popular crime fiction authors of all time, and as part of her impressive oeuvre she also wrote crime short stories. I became interested in Christie's short fiction, particularly the Mr Quin short stories.  These short texts feature some of the specific elements we have come to associate with her crime writing, while at the same time reflecting the social and cultural questions of the interwar period - the heyday of what is often referred to as the Golden Age.

I have a chapter on Agatha Christie's Mr Quin stories in a book just published by McFarland, edited by Christie scholar and expert Jamie Bernthal.  The book is entitled The Ageless Agatha Christie: Essays on the Mysteries and the Legacy.

I am really pleased with how this chapter turned out, and thrilled to have had the opportunity to write on Agatha Christie - something I have wanted to do for a long time.  The contents page of the book will give you a glimpse into the fascinating and varied perspectives on Christie's work presented here.  

Once again this year, Jamie Bernthal is organising a conference on Agatha Christie and her work.  The theme this year is "The ageless Agatha Christie", and you can find out more detail about the event here - it is promising to be a fantastic conference!  Sadly, I am unable to go this year.  But if you, like me, are fascinated by Agatha Christie's work and want to investigate the reasons for its enduring appeal, do go.  And read The Ageless Agatha Christie: Essays on the Mysteries and the Legacy!

Monday, 15 February 2016

Mothers Without Their Children

My co-editor Andrea Robertson and I are now well into our project of producing the book Mothers Without Their Children for Demeter Press.  We are currently in the process of writing our chapters and excitedly awaiting the arrival of our contributors' work.

In my office at work, writing away

The image of the mother without her child may produce a number of associations, often of maternal abjection or deprivation.  But what does investigating the idea of the mother with her children involve?  As we stated in the Call For Papers, the book will explore the subject of mothers without their children from a range of interdisciplinary perspectives.  

We also thought that it was significant to: "welcome original submissions on new fields of enquiry that address the complex issues surrounding the figure of the mother without her children and her representation.  These may include cultural, literary, socio-political, relational, ethical, phenomenological, and biological perspectives and investigations. We hope to include both scholarly and creative contributions, and would also consider direct contributions from mothers who have been separated from their children."

One of the scholars who I myself have found extremely useful in thinking about the various issues and questions surrounding the mother without her children is Elaine Tuttle Hansen and her book Mother Without Child: Contemporary Fiction and the Crisis of Motherhood.  

This excellent and detailed work is a must for anyone researching the representations of maternal experience in contemporary literature and culture.

It has been exhilarating to work on a book examining a topic of such importance to me.  In the process of working on this book, I have felt so many windows opening for me, both on an academic, scholarly and personal level.

Beautiful blue February skies from my office window

Confronting some of this material has also been challenging and forced me to rethink some of my conceptions and ways of doing things.  

Once Andrea and I have provided feedback to all the contributors, we will be embarking on the next phase of the project!