Dr Bethany Layne

Job: Senior Lecturer in English Literature

Faculty: Arts, Design and Humanities

School/department: School of Humanities

Research group(s): Centre for Adaptation Studies

Address: De Montfort University (DMU), Leicester, UK

T: 0116 250 6559

E: bethany.layne@dmu.ac.uk

W:

 

Personal profile

I joined De Montfort University as a Senior Lecturer in English Literature in September 2017. My primary research interest is Henry James’s legacy in contemporary fiction, including biographical novels and appropriative literature. I am also interested in the writing and legacies of Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath. My monograph, Henry James in Contemporary Fiction: The Real Thing is under contract with Palgrave Macmillan and projected for publication in 2019. My interviews with David Lodge, Colm Toibin, and Susan Sellers are published in Conversations with Biographical Novelists: Truthful Fictions Around the Globe (Bloomsbury, 2018), and I am the editor of a collection of essays with Cambridge Scholars, currently entitled Biofiction in Context

I welcome PhD applications from students interested in James, Woolf, Plath, biofiction, adaptation and appropriation.

Research group affiliations

I am a member of the Centre for Adaptations

Publications and outputs 

  • The Anchored Imagination of the Biographical Novel
    The Anchored Imagination of the Biographical Novel Layne, Bethany; Toibin, C.
  • Postmodernism and the Biographical Novel
    Postmodernism and the Biographical Novel Layne, Bethany
  • The Bionovel as a Hybrid Genre
    The Bionovel as a Hybrid Genre Layne, Bethany
  • Portraits and Palimpsests: Review of John Banville's Mrs Osmond
    Portraits and Palimpsests: Review of John Banville's Mrs Osmond Layne, Bethany
  • The Turn of the Century: Henry James in Millennial Fiction
    The Turn of the Century: Henry James in Millennial Fiction Layne, Bethany This article explores the developments in biographical and appropriative literature that enabled the proliferation of novels rewriting James’s life and works, including the postmodern scepticism towards biography as empirical fact, and the recognition that the biographical subject is discursive construct. It theorizes James’s appeal for contemporary novelists, which lies in the gaps and absences in his life, ripe for novelistic elaboration, and in the contemporaneity of subject matter, innovations in perspective, and cultural cachet of his works. It also explores how these novelistic reimaginings interact with readers’ varying foreknowledge.
  • Biofiction and the Paratext: Troubling Claims to Truth
    Biofiction and the Paratext: Troubling Claims to Truth Layne, Bethany Open access
  • Colm Toibin: The Anchored Imagination of the Biographical Novel
    Colm Toibin: The Anchored Imagination of the Biographical Novel Layne, Bethany The file attached to this record is the author's final version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.
  • Queering The Ambassadors: Michiel Heyns's Invisible Furies and Jamesian Appropriation
    Queering The Ambassadors: Michiel Heyns's Invisible Furies and Jamesian Appropriation Layne, Bethany
  • Reinstating "The Person to Whom Things Happened": Review of Priya Parmar, Vanessa and Her Sister, Norah Vincent, Adeline: A Novel of Virginia Woolf, and Maggie Gee, Virginia Woolf in Manhattan.
    Reinstating "The Person to Whom Things Happened": Review of Priya Parmar, Vanessa and Her Sister, Norah Vincent, Adeline: A Novel of Virginia Woolf, and Maggie Gee, Virginia Woolf in Manhattan. Layne, Bethany The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.
  • The “Supreme Portrait Artist” and the “Mistress of the Phrase”: Contesting Oppositional Portrayals of Woolf and Bell, Life and Art, in Susan Sellers’s Vanessa and Virginia (2008)
    The “Supreme Portrait Artist” and the “Mistress of the Phrase”: Contesting Oppositional Portrayals of Woolf and Bell, Life and Art, in Susan Sellers’s Vanessa and Virginia (2008) Layne, Bethany This article offers one of the first sustained explorations of Susan Sellers’s biofiction Vanessa and Virginia (2008), tracing the text’s intersections with biographies of Woolf and Bell and placing it in dialogue with Bloomsbury art theory. It explores how Sellers uses fiction to renegotiate popular representations of her subjects, which oppose “the carnal sister” to “the intellectual”, “the sane” to “the mentally unstable”. Such portrayals may be traced back to the sisters themselves, and are propagated in the other works of biofiction under consideration. Building on biographical and critical writing, particularly that of Jane Dunn and Diane Gillespie, Sellers challenges these reductive taxonomies, thereby posing an innovative intervention into her subjects’ legacies. The psychological then provides a route into the aesthetic, as Sellers proceeds to emphasise the dialogue between the sisters’ arts in terms of their structural dynamics. By reading the novel in conjunction with Clive Bell’s Art (1914) and Roger Fry’s Vision and Design (1920), I reveal its challenge to these critics’ prioritisation of form over representation, and their insistence on the necessity of artistic “detachment”. As suggested by Gillespie, McLaurin, Torgovnick, and Banfield, these precepts are applicable to Woolf’s fiction as well as Bell’s painting. Vanessa and Virginia reveals how a work of art, whether visual or literary, might display the “essential” qualities of Structural Design and Significant Form while remaining open to biographical or associative readings. In reconciling the biographical with the dictates of the Bloomsbury critics, Vanessa and Virginia opens up new interpretations of Woolf and Bell’s art, particularly in terms of its interrelationship. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version.

Research interests/expertise

Henry James, Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, biofiction, adaptation, appropriation

Areas of teaching

14th to 18th Century literature, introductory poetry and adaptation, contemporary biographical literature, postgraduate research methods and conference organisation strategies 

Qualifications

  • BA (Hons) English Studies (University of Nottingham, 2008)
  • MA Twentieth Century Literature (University of Leeds, 2009)
  • PhD Modern to Contemporary Literature (‘(Post) Modernist Biofictions: The Literary Afterlives of Henry James, Virginia Woolf, and Sylvia Plath’) (University of Leeds, 2013)

Courses taught

  • Exploration and Innovation: 14th Century to 18th Century Literature
  • Poetry and Society
  • Introduction to English and Adaptation
  • English Research Methods (MA)
  • Conference Organisation (MA)
  • Biofiction: Writers’ Afterlives (2019-20)

Membership of professional associations and societies

  • Member of the Association for Adaptation Studies 

Conference attendance

"Adoring Isabel: Extending The Portrait of a Lady in John Banville’s Mrs Osmond" at The Association of Adaptation Studies 13th Annual Conference, The University of Amsterdam, 2018.

‘‘Bibliofaction’’ as Adaptation and Return’ at The Association of Adaptation Studies 12th Annual Conference, De Montfort University, Leicester, 2017

 Postmodernist Biofiction (Co-organiser with Dr Madeleine Davies), University of Reading, 2017

 ‘Better Never than Late: The Absence and Origins of the Major Phase in David Lodge’s Author, Author and Colm Tóibín’s The Master’ at Late and Later James, Lamb House, Rye, 2016.

'“Great Poets Do Not Die”: Maggie Gee’s Virginia Woolf in Manhattan (2015) as Metaphor for Contemporary Biofiction’, at Virginia Woolf and Heritage, the 26th Annual Conference on    Virginia Woolf, Leeds Trinity University, 2016

‘“The price of adaptation may be very high”: Jamesian Transmission in Michiel Heyns’s Invisible Furies (2012)’ at Reading Henry James in the Twenty-First Century: Heritage and Transmission, The American University of Paris, 2016

Consultancy work

Area of Expertise: Henry James, Biographical and Appropriative Literature; currently available

Professional esteem indicators

I have acted as a reader for the journals ANQ: A Quarterly Journal of Short Articles, Notes and Reviews, English Studies in Africa, and a/b: Auto/Biography Studies.

Bethany Layne

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