CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – In the early 20th century, a small group of writers, artists and intellectuals gathered in a fashionable London neighborhood to discuss everything from literature and art to politics and economics. A brilliant but melancholy young writer named Virginia Woolf often attended these salons, known as the Bloomsbury Group, and it seems fitting that her presence will again be evoked at 5 p.m. on May 14 during the Austin Peay State University Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts’ Spring Salon Series event.
On that evening, Clarksville’s own community of writers, artists and intellectuals will gather at the Clarksville-Montgomery County Public Library for an evening of lively discussions on feminism and Irish and English literature. That’s because this salon event will feature Dr. Jill Franks, APSU professor of English, discussing her new book, “British and Irish Women Writers and the Women’s Movement: Six Literary Voices of Their Times.” The book was released last month from McFarland Publishers.
For this scholarly study, Franks picked three British and three Irish writers who wrote during the three different waves of feminist movement. For each wave, she paired a British writer and an Irish writer, and noted the differences in how they depicted society during each wave.
During the first wave, which focused on the women’s suffrage movement of the early 20th century, Franks examined Elizabeth Bowen’s Irish novel “The Last September” and Woolf’s English book “Mrs. Dalloway.” For the second wave, which dealt with issues of women’s liberation during the 1960s, Franks looked at Edna O’Brien’s Irish “Country Girls” trilogy and Doris Lessing’s British book “The Golden Notebook.” Finally, in the third wave, which often criticized the failures of the second wave, she examined Irish writer Nuala O’Faolain’s “My Dream of You” and English writer Fay Weldon’s “Big Women.”
“This whole book has a stated purpose to bring Irish writers out of relative obscurity, and also to inquire whether there is an Irish women’s movement, even though it gets subsumed in other movements and looks quite different from the British movement,” Franks said.
The Salon Series, which is free and open to the public, was created four years ago as a way of bringing art enrichment activities to the Clarksville community. The APSU Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts hosts a salon event once a month during the fall and spring semesters, featuring distinguishes local artists, arts organizations or scholars, followed by refreshments and good conversations.
For more information on the salon, contact the APSU Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts at 931-221-7876.
Photo cutline: Dr. Jill Franks, APSU professor of English, reads through her new book, “British and Irish Women Writers and the Women’s Movement: Six Literary Voices of Their Times.” (Photo by Beth Liggett/APSU staff)