Claire Davison on Katherine Mansfield
Katherine Mansfield’s Garden Parties: Landscape, Mindscape, Soundscape
Claire Davison will give a lecture and lead a seminar discussion on Katherine Mansfield in our Women Writers summer course. Here she sets out some of the ideas she will explore:
'In this seminar, we'll be focusing on the subtle depiction of space in some of Mansfield’s key stories in The Garden Party, written when she was at the height of her creative life. First, we’ll explore how different artistic languages interlink – visual arts, cinema, music, theatre, music hall – all worlds she’d had intimate experience of during her literary apprenticeship, especially in London and Paris. Then we’ll think more carefully about the framing of space, and her creation of inner and outer worlds, and what happens on the boundaries of the two. From here we’ll move into the worlds of the senses, and the subtle montage of memory and desire, drawing from biographical and theoretical sources to appreciate how rich formal experimentation, dynamic sensuality, and gentle empathy are in part rebellious artistic protests against the unspeakable scandals of disease and destruction.
The key stories we will discuss are ‘At the Bay’, ‘The Daughters of the Late Colonel’ and ‘The Life of Ma Parker’, with added insights taken from four letters written (to artists and writers) in exactly the same era:
•To Richard Murry, 3 February 1921 (Collected Letters of Katherine Mansfield, ed. V. O’Sullivan and Margaret Scott, Oxford: Oxford University Press, Vol. 4, 1996, 172-4.
•To Dorothy Brett, 12 September 1921, 277-279.
•To Dorothy Brett, 15 October 1921, 295-297.
•To William Gerhardi, 21 November 1921, 323-324.
Suggested further reading:
Gerri Kimber, Katherine Mansfield and the Art of the Short Story (Palgrave, 2015)
Delia da Sousa et al., Katherine Mansfield and the Arts, Katherine Mansfield Studies vol. 3 (Edinburgh University Press, 2011)
Claire's lecture will be illustrated with musical examples by acclaimed cellist, Joseph Spooner. A rare treat. http://josephspooner.net/
Women Writers summer course, 8-13 July. Book here.