• The Literary Places of Mary Cholmondeley and Mary Webb: Women Walking and Interacting with the Shropshire Countryside

      Wynne, Deborah; Walker, Naomi (University of Chester, 2020-11)
      This thesis will demonstrate the importance of Mary Cholmondeley’s and Mary Webb’s novels, short stories, poetry and essays by showing their part in the literary heritage of Shropshire. Both writers drew on their experiences of living in Shropshire villages for their inspiration. This thesis will highlight the significance of the work of these now little-known authors and will draw attention to the feminist arguments which were implicit in their work. By highlighting the instances of women walking and interacting with the countryside in their short stories and novels, I will show that both authors indicated the necessity for greater rights for women in society in the early part of the twentieth century. The independent and freethinking heroines who feature in their novels and short stories provide important feminist representations which deserve greater visibility in studies of this period. As such, this thesis will be useful to scholars studying New Woman writers and their depictions of women. By stressing the influence of Shropshire on each author’s work, I hope that they will stand comparison with A.E. Housman, whose poetry is influenced by that region. This thesis will provide a critical study of Cholmondeley and Webb and I have produced a number of G.I.S. maps to emphasise the connection they had with Shropshire. These provide an alternative way to study their work. This online and accessible resource should engage new audiences to their work. The Introduction to the thesis will set out the connections that both writers had with the county. It will also provide an overview of critical texts associated with Space and Place studies that have influenced my research, as well as relating Cholmondeley and Webb to some of the other women writers who were writing at the same time. Chapter One focusses on Cholmondeley’s writing, arguing that her work displays an implicit feminism. She depicts heroines walking and interacting with the countryside in both her novels and short stories as part of her argument that women desired more independence in the early part of the twentieth century. This chapter also assesses the influence of Shropshire on Cholmondeley’s work and argues that, even when living away from the county, it had a great impact on her writing. Chapter Two will show that, whilst Mary Webb’s connection to Shropshire has already been well established, few academic studies have been written about her work. I argue that, by portraying the mobility of women within the rural landscape in her novels, poetry, essays and short stories, she addresses the larger political issue of women’s rights. This chapter also analyses the work of many of the literary pilgrims who visited Shropshire specifically in search of the places that inspired Webb’s writing in order to show the unhelpful ways in which they have mythologised her life and work. Chapter Three will analyse the G.I.S. maps which I have produced in order to argue that mapping can lead to a greater insight into the work of these two authors. It will also point out the growing use of interactive technology in contemporary literature studies. Links to my G.I.S. maps, and more information about them, can be found in the Appendix to my thesis. The Conclusion demonstrates the continuing legacy of Cholmondeley and Webb in order to stress their importance, not only to the literary landscape of Shropshire, but also to the wider literary culture.
    • Spirit-Centred Personhood: re-reading anorexia nervosa through a feminist practical theological frame

      Graham, Elaine; Babb, Julie B. (University of Chester, 2021-06)
      Anorexia nervosa is a ‘frequently lethal illness’ (Watson et al, 2019). Watson et al make this assertion as they and other researchers seek to understanding the role that genes play in the illness and its lethality. Recent biological research such as this has vastly extended knowledge about anorexia, as has recent psychological and sociological research into the illness. However, researchers in these areas acknowledge that understanding of anorexia remains insufficient notwithstanding the new knowledge that they are generating through their painstaking work (Nunn et al, 2011). I argue across this thesis that biological, psychological and sociological models of anorexia are unable to generate more sufficient understanding because they are limited by the binary opposition that structures discourse in the West. I claim that this limitation results from the way in which Aristotle’s metaphysical figuration of the subject of discourse as a universal male continues to frame subjectivity in the West: a framing of subjectivity that I argue the experience of female anorexia brings into view when engaged in an interdisciplinary dialogue with feminist practical theology. In order to respond to the limitation that inheres in biological, psychological and sociological models of anorexia, and to generate more sufficient understanding of the illness, I develop a model of spirit-centred personhood through which to embody subjectivity and women with anorexia. I establish a reflexive narrative methodology to underpin the dialogic nature and dialectic movement of the theoretical framework of this model. I argue that these combine through the relational subjectivity that is embodied by the intrapersonal and interpersonal dimensions of the traits of my model. My model of spirit-centred personhood thus enables me to respond to the research problem in two important ways. First, it enables me to generate knowledge from an embodied and sexuate location as it frames my engagement with the philosophy of Luce Irigaray, my key conversation partner. Second, it enables me to employ that knowledge to embody subjectivity in theory and women with anorexia in practice. In enabling me to respond in these two ways, my model assists me to achieve the overarching aim of this research project: namely, to enable women with anorexia to recover and sustain recovery across time.