It’s been a momentous three months since my last post as at the end of September I submitted a book I’ve been thinking about and working on intermittently for over sixteen years. Over the past two years I’ve been able to pull together all that thinking, engage in sustained writing, and produce a book I am truly proud of: Deconstruction, Feminism, Film will be published by Edinburgh University Press in June 2018. It’s a special book to me for many reasons: it’s my first book that extends my work from literary studies into film; it addresses and finally puts to rest troubling philosophic questions about deconstruction that I’ve had since I was a PhD student; and it articulates my methodology as a feminist scholar. Most importantly, however, it is my first monograph since having my children. As any academic parent knows, the effect of having children on one’s career is enormous – it’s not just the actual weeks you take off for parental leave. If you carry the child, it’s the inability to concentrate in the final months of a pregnancy, or even throughout those nine months if one has a difficult pregnancy. It’s the chronic sleep deprivation that arrives with your first child, which, if they are not that mythical beast, ‘a good sleeper’, prevents all but the most basic functioning (and can do so, in my experience, for years). It’s the return to work as a different person, with a different set of commitments and an entirely different relationship to time. It’s all the conferences, invitations, after-hours seminars, international travel that are now mostly ruled out just as a matter of course, with the select few you choose to attend requiring careful and extensive planning. I have no complaints – I chose to have my children, I love them, and they are more important to me than any book. But the pride I feel in having produced Deconstruction, Feminism, Film as well as my babies is enormous. So for any academic parent out there struggling in those early years, doubting the possibility that they will ever read anything more advanced than a picture book again, let alone have the intellectual energy, time and space to WRITE a book again….keep the faith: you will be able to do it again, eventually.
Back in autumn 2012, when I was still up at St Andrews, Caroline Edwards and I held a hugely enjoyable and productive conference on author Maggie Gee, as part of my Gylphi Contemporary Writers book series. Three years later, after a job move each for Caroline and I, we couldn’t be more delighted to see the fruits of that conference and of the labour of us and our contributors, come to fruition. Maggie Gee: Critical Essays will be published on 5th October and is available for pre-order here. Even if we do say so ourselves, it’s a superb volume covering her key works as well as including a foreword by Maggie herself, as well as a copy of her previously uncollected lecture on literature, ‘How May I Speak in My Own Voice? Language and the Forbidden’.
After a few years gaining momentum the Gylphi Contemporary Writers Series has now hit full speed: China Miéville: Critical Essays, edited by Caroline Edwards and Tony Venezia, will be forthcoming in November, with titles on Tom McCarthy (whose novel Satin Island is shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2015), Adam Roberts and Rupert Thomson forthcoming in 2016.