INTERSECTIONS: Gender and Identity in the Short Fiction of Contemporary British Women Writers
Intersections: Gender and Identity in the Short Fiction of Contemporary British Women Writers seeks to examine the complex intersections among nation, gender, class and sexuality as articulated in contemporary short stories by British women writers. Recent criticism of the short story (Hunter 2007) identifies the genre as being “particularly suited to the representation of liminal or problematized identities”, and as speaking “directly to and about those whose sense of self, region, state or nation is insecure” (138). Similarly, Achilles and Bergmann (2015) have argued that the short story is the liminal genre par excellence. This “in-betweenness”, fluidity and generic hybridity makes the short story a particularly apt vehicle to challenge received identitary assumptions. Furthermore, the short story’s brevity and flexibility of format enables it to respond in a more immediate and urgent manner to topical issues. Departing from these premises, our team intends to examine the short story production of twenty-first century British women writers such as Jackie Kay, Helen Oyeyemi, Monica Ali, Diana Evans, Laura Fish, Aminata Forna, Ravinder Randhawa, Andrea Levy, Qaisra Shahraz, Roshi Fernando or Leila Aboulela, whose work provides a foil to the current cultural and political situation through the literary articulation of ethnic, national, class and gender intersections. Apart from individual collections by these and other writers, we also deal with the forceful return of the multi-authored anthology of short fiction (mainly) by women as a collective vehicle of political resistance, subversion of fixed identitary categories and intersectional articulations, including, inter alia, works such as The Things I Would Tell You: British Muslim Women (ed. S. Mahfouz, 2017), Our Stories, Our Lives: Inspiring Muslim Women’s Voices (ed. W. Shaffi, 2009), or Kin: New Fictions by Black and Asian Women (ed. K. McCarthy, 2003). Finally, our research team also seeks to look into short stories published in unconventional and varied formats and outlets (electronic journals, blogs, websites, etc.) that target a wide range of readers with urgency and topicality.