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Research Case studies

Contemporary Women's Writing Association

The School of Cultural Studies & Humanities is home to the Contemporary Women’s Writing Association. At a time when book clubs and universities are focusing on women authors, the CWWA is devoted to the study of this field.

69% of such groups are made up entirely of women and among the top-ten authors whose work was selected across all groups, half were women. Books like Andrea Levy’s Small Island, Monica Ali’s Brick Lane and Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk About Kevin are staple texts for reading group discussion.

In universities, contemporary women's writing is a rich and exciting field, which is strongly represented on undergraduate and postgraduate degree courses in English Literature. It also features prominently at academic conferences, in the media, in the listings for literary prizes (for example the Man Booker and the Orange Prize) and at literary festivals. However, until recently there was no organization devoted to the study of this field.

In 2005 Mary Eagleton, then Professor in the School of Cultural Studies, established the Contemporary Women’s Writing Network (CWWN), a forum for promoting and supporting research and the exchange of ideas and information for all those interested in this dynamic and diverse area of cultural activity. The network went from strength to strength. In March 2011 we became the Contemporary Women’s Writing Association (CWWA). As Chair of the CWWA executive, Dr Susan Watkins has been delighted at the response to the formal launch of the new Association. There are currently 131 members from around the world: this is a truly international venture, which we hope will go from strength to strength.

Our website publicizes events, seminars, conferences and meetings, reviews recent publications and promotes new developments in the field. CWWA has organized a number of international conferences, on subjects including women’s writing in the commercial marketplace, contemporary women’s writing and diaspora and new texts, approaches and technologies in contemporary women’s writing. Our next conference will take place in Taiwan in 2012 on the theme of women writing the body. We also helped establish what has become a thriving network for postgraduate students.

One of our biggest achievements was the creation of a new international, peer reviewed journal in this field. Contemporary Women’s Writing, published by Oxford University Press, covers the period from roughly 1970 to the present and is particularly concerned with the new and provocative aspects of contemporary women’s writing. Recent journal issues have addressed the relationship between contemporary women’s writing and diaspora and have contained interviews with some of the most exciting writers in the field today.
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