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PG-Staff Feminist Reading Group

This reading group is aimed at Postgraduates and Staff to come together to discuss feminist literature and feminist literary theory in a relaxed and friendly environment, which nevertheless aims to have intersectionality and inclusivity at its core. You can see last year's schedule here

Following the success of the Departmental Conversations in Term 3 of 2020/21, this year the reading group will take a slightly different shape to showcase departmental research and foster friendly, feminist conversations. Once per month one of our colleagues will informally discuss a feminist aspect of their research, alongside a short reading around the themes they would like us to discuss.

Image depicting three women of different races and ethnicities posing like Rosie the Riveter, with a dark blue speech bubble stating

Groups will take place once a month 4.30pm-6pm (see below for details)

All are welcome who wish to join!

Contacts: Roxanne Douglas ( & Esthie Hugo (

Schedule 2021/22

Term 1 Week 5: Feminist Dissent and starting a feminist journal with Dr Rashmi Varma
Wednesday 3rd Nov 16.30-18.00

Reading: ‘Why Feminist Dissent?’ by Rashmi Varma, Sukhwant Dhaliwal, and Chitra Nagarajan available here:

Term 1 Week 8: Women's Writing in Yiddish with Dr Rochelle Sibley
Wednesday 24th Nov 16.30-18.00


This session's readings are in relation to self-representation and the ways in which female Yiddish writers challenged the patriarchal canon of US-Yiddish literature.

The first is a short story first published in Yiddish in 1920 called “An Old Woman with Young Dreams”, which is in translation here: An Old Woman with Young Dreams | Yiddish Book Center 

The second is a short selection of Yenta Serdatsky’s letters to the editor of The New York Weekly (Nyu yorker wochenblatt) between 1949 and 1962, which were written after Serdatsky had argued with the influential editor of the Forverts paper, Abraham Cahan, who had effectively ended her literary career. These letters are translated here: "Letters to the Editor" | Yiddish Book Center and were a means of Serdatsky securing a column in the Wochenblatt after many years without being published.

Further biographical details on Yenta Serdatsky can be found here: Yente Serdatsky | Jewish Women's Archive (

Term 2 Week 3: Feminism & Food Futures in Global South Speculative Fiction with Esthie Hugo and Nora Castle
Wednesday 26th Jan 16.30-18.00

For this session, we watch Esthie Hugo and Nora Castle's paper 'Growgirls' and Cultured Eggs: Food Futures and Critical Race Feminism in Speculative Fiction from the Global South' given at the 2021 Just Food: Because It Is Never Just Food conference. Esthie and Nora's paper will be published soon in Technologies of Feminist Speculative Fiction: Gender, Artificial Life, Reproduction, ed. by Sherryl Vint and Sümeyra Buran (Palgrave, forthcoming 2022)

This session will also be a special 'farewell' to Esthie as she embarks on her new role as an Associate Lecturer at Wits University in Johannesburg - huge congratulations, Esthie!

Presentation Abstract:

As climate change threatens to destabilize traditional agriculture, genetically-modified plants, vertical farms, and in-vitro meat increasingly appear to be the future of the global food system. Absent from many celebratory constructions of food’s future are the gendered and racialized impacts of agricultural technology. While food tech has historically served to free (some) women from the kitchen, it is also implicated in an assemblage that can be used to oppress, often transforming, rather than eliminating, the suffering of women and racialized subjects.

Drawing on emerging scholarship on intersectional ecofeminism, this presentation thinks through the racial and gendered histories of food technology through a close reading of South African author Lauren Beukes’ Ungirls (2019) and Pakistani author Bina Shah’s Before She Sleeps (2018). It considers the ways in which women’s speculative writing from the Global South makes use of food tech novums – in particular, cultured foods – to dramatize the ongoing precarity of gendered and raced bodies within the capitalist world-food-system.

While the aim of our analysis is not to undermine the benefits that science and technology have enabled, we are interested in how a critical race feminist food studies lens can put pressure on these techno-utopic imaginaries. We argue that these fictions demonstrate the ease with which ‘emancipated’ woman’s bodies are turned back into consumable objects, and in so doing, illustrate how the high-tech engineering of plants and animals cannot be extricated from the history of the raced and gendered bodies who play an essential role in the modern world-food-system.

Term 2 Week 10: Muslim women's poetry in the archive with Aiman Khattak
Wednesday 23rd Feb 16.30-18.00

This week Aiman Khattak (doctoral candidate at ECLS) will share her research on Muslim’s women’s poetry in the archive. We will discuss the first section of Muslim Female Literary Voices of the Subcontinent (1870 -1950), written by Aiman, 'Contribution of Muslim Women in Poetry from 1870-1940' (page 7-21). You are, however, welcome to read the whole book. The volume represents collaboration as well as some rare archival finds. It also carries some precious memories and histories related to Pakistan, and Muslim women's role in it through their literary contributions.

Term 3 Week 1: Female Villains in Shakespeare with Dr Ursula Clayton
Wednesday April 27th 16.30-18.00

Reading: tba

Term 3 Week 4: Women writing ghosts with Dr Jen Baker
Wednesday March 16th 16.30-18.00

Reading: tba

Term 3 Week 8: Ageing and Gender with Dr Liz Barry

Reading: tba

We warmly welcome suggestions for session themes, readings, or requests to lead a session.
Please contact Roxanne with any queries and suggestions.