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July 10, 2008

FWSA Seminar: Welsh Women's Writing: Jane Aaron's Keynote Speech

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On Monday 7th July 08, I attended the FWSA symposium on ‘Welsh Women’s Writing: Voice, Space, Identity’. The day began with a keynote speech by Jane Aaron on ‘Women Writing Welsh Gothic.’ Aaron began by pointing out the nineteenth century enthusiasm for all things Celtic. This meant that the Celtic setting and characters appeared in Welsh Gothic texts and often they were written by women. Some examples were in the tourist literature genre featuring visitors to Wales and their experience of horrid thrills. For example, The Tower, or the Romance of Ruthyne by Sarah Landes, Anzoletta Zadowski by Ann Howells, in which women are trapped in Gothic locations in Wales. Welsh women writers on the other hand often set their Gothic plots in English locations, such as Anna Maria Bennett’s Ellen, Countess of Castle Howel. Aaron suggests that this might be a way for these writers to critique English class. In Mary Robinson’s Angelina: a novel, the heroine voluntarily lives in a Welsh ruin after being ruined by an English husband. English society is a destructive force here. I don’t want to say too much about Jane Aaron’s paper as I believe that she is writing it up for publication, but she discussed the aforementioned issues in relation to a range of nineteenth-century texts including Ann of Swansea’s Cambrian Pictures and Sophia Lee’s short story, ‘The Clergyman’s Tale,’ but she also includes more modern texts such as Mary Jones’ Resistance, Bertha Thomas’ short stories, Menna Gallie’s The Small Mine, and Rachel Tresize’s In and Out of the Fish Bowl.


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