“Because she arrives, vibrant, over and over again, we are at the beginning of a new history, or rather of a process of becoming in which several histories intersect with one another. As a subject for history, woman always occurs simultaneously in several places. Woman un-thinks the unifying, regulating history that homogenizes and channels forces, herding contradictions into a single battlefield.”
This quotation from Cixous’s “The Laugh of the Medusa” has haunted me (in a good way) since I was an undergrad. I didn’t know what it meant to me then, but it stuck with me, adding texture and layers to my education and foreshadowing my academic interests. Years later I started a master’s program at the University of Montevallo because it seemed like the next logical step after a BA in English. I didn’t really have a clear life plan until I took Dr. Kathryn King’s 18th century novel course. Her passion for the Mothers of The Novel, Eliza Haywood in particular, inspired me to apply for PhD programs, and several years later, in the fall of 2009, I found myself in Vancouver, BC at Simon Fraser University. With Dr. Betty Schellenberg as my supervisor, I’ve embarked on a dissertation entitled, “Writing Eliza Haywood/Eliza Haywood Writing.” It’s been a [mostly] fun ride, with a fellowship at Chawton House Library last October and the chance to work at the British Library for two weeks afterward as major highlights.
I’m blogging for academic interaction (I’m now living in Atlanta with my husband, Tommy, and my gigantic dog, Madison) and to post about my research…and to keep me writing! I think Haywood, as a female author, embodies Cixous’s proclamation about women; her oeuvre is unorganized, de-centered, and often disruptive. She challenged cultural and political norms, and continues to challenge her students today with her non-linearity, her authorial voice, and her ability to make us think. Join me in thinking about Haywood?
 Hélène Cixous, “The Laugh of the Medusa,” Trans. Keith Cohen and Paula Cohen. Signs: Journal of Women and Culture in Society 1, no. 4 (1976): 882.