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Bob Owens
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Call for papers

What became known as ‘The Woman Question’ was one of the most disruptive and fiercely contested issues of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. It encompassed not only debates over women’s suffrage, but gender equality more widely, including professional, economic, domestic, and sexual issues affecting women. The role and position of women in society, and relations between women and men, were widely discussed by writers of the period. These included the Bedford-born novelist William Hale White (1831–1913), better known by his literary pseudonym, ‘Mark Rutherford’. In his final three novels – Miriam’s Schooling (1890), Catharine Furze (1893), and Clara Hopgood (1896) – White created and presented with great insight and sympathy a series of female characters who defy the social, sexual and political constraints placed upon them.

This Symposium on ‘Literature and “The Woman Question”’ is hosted by the Research Institute for Media, Arts and Performance (RIMAP) at the University of Bedfordshire, and is organized by the Mark Rutherford Society. Its aim is to open up discussion of the wider context within which Hale White’s own contribution to ‘The Woman Question’ may be better understood.

Confirmed Keynote Speakers

  • Elisabeth Jay, Professor Emerita of English, Oxford Brookes University - Fin de siècle Women in Mid-Century Clothing: William Hale White’s Novels of the 1890s’
  • Jean-Michel Yvard, Associate Professor of English, University of Angers - Woman as a Privileged Mediator of Ethical Values: Feminism and Secularization in the Writings of William Hale White (‘Mark Rutherford’)

Papers are invited on any writer or literary text dealing with the ‘Woman Question’. Please send a title and 200-word summary of a 20-minute paper to Professor Bob Owens at as soon as possible, but no later than 1 May 2018.

The Mark Rutherford Society may be able to offer modest financial assistance with travel costs of postgraduate students whose papers are accepted. If you wish to be considered for this, in addition to sending the outline of your paper, please explain briefly why you would need help with travel costs.

Bedfordshire University

Call for papers