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

 

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 

  • Henry James in Contemporary Fiction: The Real Thing
    Henry James in Contemporary Fiction: The Real Thing Layne, Bethany This book explores the extraordinary proliferation of novels based on Henry James’s life and works published between 2001 and 2016, the centenary of his death. Part One concentrates on biofictions about James by David Lodge and Colm Tóibín, and those written from the perspective of the key female figures in his life. Part Two explores appropriations of The Portrait of a Lady, The Turn of the Screw, and The Ambassadors. The book articulates the developments in biographical and adaptive writing that enabled millennial writers to engage so explicitly with James, locates the sources of his appeal, and explores the different forms of engagement taken. Layne analyses how these manifestations of James’s legacy might function differently for knowing versus unknowing readers, and how they might perform the role of literary criticism. Overarching themes include ideas of queering, the concern with seeking redress, and the frustrated quest for origin, authenticity, or ‘the real thing’.
  • Her Own Words Describe Her Best? Reconstructing Plath’s Original Ariel in Sylvia (2003) and Wintering (2003)
    Her Own Words Describe Her Best? Reconstructing Plath’s Original Ariel in Sylvia (2003) and Wintering (2003) Layne, Bethany This article explores two of Sylvia Plath’s afterlives: John Brownlow and Christine Jeffs’ biopic Sylvia (2003) and Kate Moses’s novel Wintering (2003). Contrary to Frieda Hughes’s assertion that such works attempt to “breathe life into” Plath (xvii), I show how these are textual resuscitations, engaging intimately with Plath’s then-unpublished Ariel manuscript. I explore how both writers’ decision to omit the second wave of Ariel poems contests Hughes’s arrangement of the collection, and severs the link, fostered in Ariel and confirmed in Birthday Letters, between Plath’s writing and her death. I then show how the texts’ readings of Ariel nuance interpretations of Plath herself, emphasising her pursuit of transcendence over her drive towards self-destruction. These biographical works ultimately yield significant critical implications, popularising long-standing scholarly debates about “why the differences between the two version of Ariel matter” (Badia 162) and catalysing the canon-reformation that produced Ariel: The Restored Edition. open access journal
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Portraits and Palimpsests: Review of John Banville's Mrs Osmond
    Portraits and Palimpsests: Review of John Banville's Mrs Osmond Layne, Bethany
  • Biofiction and the Paratext: Troubling Claims to Truth
    Biofiction and the Paratext: Troubling Claims to Truth Layne, Bethany Open access
  • 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.

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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