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 was published with Palgrave Macmillan in 2020. My interviews with David Lodge, Colm Toibin, and Susan Sellers are published in Conversations with Biographical Novelists: Truthful Fictions Across the Globe (Bloomsbury, 2018), and I am the editor of Biofiction and Writers' Afterlives (Cambridge Scholars, 2020)

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

  • ‘Full cause of weeping’: Affective Failure in The Queen (2006) and The Crown (2019)
    ‘Full cause of weeping’: Affective Failure in The Queen (2006) and The Crown (2019) Layne, Bethany This article reads The Crown, Series Three, Episode Three, ‘Aberfan’, as an adaptation of The Queen, both of which were written by Peter Morgan. Each focuses on a crisis in public relations emerging from Elizabeth II’s delayed reaction to a tragedy: the mining disaster in The Crown and the death of Princess Diana in The Queen. Both are double portraits, in which the monarch’s affective failure is contrasted with the more humane response of the prime minister, Harold Wilson and Tony Blair respectively. And both texts explore the tension between private grief and public performance. By reading these texts in dialogue, their relevance to their contemporary contexts is magnified. The Queen uses Elizabeth II’s nadir in public relations to comment on Blair’s fall from grace as a result of the Iraq War, while ‘Aberfan’, by emphasising the avoidable nature of the disaster, comments on the Grenfell Tower fire of 2017. While neither text shrinks from criticising the monarch for her breakdown in empathy, the resonances between Aberfan and Grenfell allow the Queen’s immediate and humane response in 2017 to redeem her delayed reactions in the past. This demonstrates the capacity of fictional texts to intervene in the popular perception of their subjects. open access article Layne, B (2021) 'Full cause of weeping’: Affective Failure in The Queen (2006) and The Crown (2019)', European Journal of Life Writing, 10, pp. 41-63
  • Something Rich and Strange?: Drowning, Resurfacing and Recycling in Biofiction about Woolf
    Something Rich and Strange?: Drowning, Resurfacing and Recycling in Biofiction about Woolf Layne, Bethany Layne, B. (2022) Something Rich and Strange?: Drowning, Resurfacing and Recycling in Biofiction about Woolf . In: Latham, M., Marie, C., Rigeade, M. (Eds.) Recycling Virginia Woolf in Contemporary Art and Literature. New York: Routledge, pp.202-215.
  • Great Poets Do Not Die: Maggie Gee's Virginia Woolf in Manhattan (2014) as Metaphor for Contemporary Biofiction
    Great Poets Do Not Die: Maggie Gee's Virginia Woolf in Manhattan (2014) as Metaphor for Contemporary Biofiction Layne, Bethany This chapter takes as its subject Maggie Gee’s novel Virginia Woolf in Manhattan (2014), which imagines what might transpire if Woolf were to be resurrected in twenty-&rst-century New York. She is conjured by the &ctitious novelist Angela Lamb, who is visiting the Berg Collection in preparation for a keynote address at an international Woolf conference. As a contemporary novelist who recalls her subject to life, lends her clothing and helps her to sign her name, Angela is symbolic of the real-life novelists who recreated Woolf in their own image and reinterpreted her works in line with their respective versions. The chapter thus contends that Gee’s recent manifestation of Woolf-inspired bio&ction may be read successfully as an extended metaphor for the twenty-year-old subgenre. This originated with Sigrid Nunez (1998) and Michael Cunningham (1998), and extends to recent work by Priya Parmar (2014) and Norah Vincent (2015). The chapter &rst examines issues of content, focusing on Gee’s presentation of Woolf’s suicide and sexuality. The discussion is then expanded to think critically about Woolf-inspired bio&ction as a subgenre, particularly the ethical issues attendant on its invasion of the subject’s privacy. Layne, B. (2021) Great Poets Do Not Die: Maggie Gee's Virginia Woolf in Manhattan (2014) as Metaphor for Contemporary Biofiction. In: Dubino, J., Pajak, P., Hollis, C.W., Lypka, C., Neverow, V. (Eds.) The Edinburgh Companion to Virginia Woolf and Contemporary Global Literature. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, pp.399-411.
  • Sounds Strangely Familiar: John Banville's Jamesian Pastiche
    Sounds Strangely Familiar: John Banville's Jamesian Pastiche Layne, Bethany Layne, B. (2021) Sounds Strangely Familiar: John Banville's Jamesian Pastiche. In: Buonomo, L. (Ed.) The Sound of James: The Aural Dimension in Henry James's Work. Trieste: Universita di Trieste, pp.227-243.
  • Why we still have a fear of the dark
    Why we still have a fear of the dark Layne, Bethany Layne, B. (2020) 'Why we still have a fear of the dark', I news, 16 October, p.22.
  • The Haunting of Bly Manor: why Henry James’s eerie tale still inspires so many adaptations
    The Haunting of Bly Manor: why Henry James’s eerie tale still inspires so many adaptations Layne, Bethany Layne, B. (2020) . The Haunting of Bly Manor: why Henry James’s eerie tale still inspires so many adaptations. The Conversation UK, viewed 16 October 2020 .
  • Biofiction and Writers' Afterlives
    Biofiction and Writers' Afterlives Layne, Bethany Layne, B. (ed.) (2020) Biofiction and Writers' Afterlives. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars.
  • BBC’s adaptation of Malory Towers reveals more about the period and its diversity than Blyton’s book
    BBC’s adaptation of Malory Towers reveals more about the period and its diversity than Blyton’s book Layne, Bethany Layne, B. (2020) BBC’s adaptation of Malory Towers reveals more about the period and its diversity than Blyton’s book. The Conversation UK, viewed 22 April 2020. .
  • 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’. Layne, B. (2020). Henry James in Contemporary Fiction: The Real Thing. Basingstoke: Palgrave.
  • ''Welcome to a New Era'?: Downton Abbey in 2019'
    ''Welcome to a New Era'?: Downton Abbey in 2019' Layne, Bethany Just as Downton Abbey Seasons 1-6 coincided with the Coalition government, the production schedule for the 2019 movie paralleled key moments in the Brexit campaign. The film offers a comforting, optimistic narrative to an audience expected to have recently severed ties with Europe, bidding viewers “welcome to a new era”. Like the series, however, which has been read as an apologia for the new Conservatism, the film has a deeply reactionary narrative, pretending that technological and sartorial advances constitute progress. The article pursues this argument from a feminist perspective, proceeding down the film’s social hierarchy from the Princess Royal to the under-cook. Layne, B. (2020) Welcome to a New Era: Downton Abbey in 2019. Journal of Popular Film and Television,

Key research outputs

Henry James in Contemporary Fiction: The Real Thing (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020)

Biofiction and Writers' Afterlives (Cambridge Scholars, 2020)

Research interests/expertise

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

Areas of teaching

Poetry; critical reading and writing skills; contemporary fiction; adaptation 

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

  • Approaches to Reading and Writing
  • Poetry and Society
  • Millennial World Fiction
  • The 21st Century Global Franchise: Adapting the Wizarding World
  • English Research Methods (MA)
  • Putting Methods into Practice (MA)

Professional licences and certificates

Fellow of the Higher Education Academy 

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

Current research students

Julian Pinnick; second supervisor

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.

Case studies

My article 'Why we still have a fear of the dark' was published in the newspaper on on 16th October 2020, and I have written two pieces for The Conversation, on the BBC adaptation of Malory Towers, and on the Netflix series The Haunting of Bly Manor.

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