Department of English


Bette London

Research Interests

Bette London's research has been largely concerned with questions of authorship, broadly conceived, in the context of 19th and 20th-century British writing, especially the novel. She has explored such issues as the cult of authorship surrounding modernist and feminist icons; the construction of voice as a contested site of cultural and aesthetic authority; modes of literary production; and reception history. She regularly engages debates within feminist, gender, and postcolonial theory, and explores the usefulness of these critical practices for the production of close textual readings. While much of her work has focused on highly canonical texts and authors, she has also been interested in authorial practices that have not generally been celebrated, sometimes not even recognized as such. This has led her to the non-canonical writings of some of the most canonized writers: the juvenilia of the Brontës, for example, or the automatic writing of W. B. and Georgie Yeats. And it has prompted her investigation of alternative writing practices, such as literary collaboration and mediumship—practices, she argues, that deserve a more prominent place in our understanding of the social construction of authorship and its literary history. She is currently developing a project on posthumous writing.

Fellowships, Honors & Awards

  • Mellon Faculty Fellowship, University of Rochester
  • Editorial Board, NOVEL: A Forum on Fiction
  • Executive Committee, Association of Departments of English

Courses Offered (subject to change)

  • Courses in modern and contemporary literature, Victorian literature and culture, women's writing, postcolonial literature and theory, the construction of authorship, the novel, feminist criticism and theory

Selected Publications

  • Writing Double: Women's Literary Partnerships, Cornell 1999
  • The Appropriated Voice: Narrative Authority in Conrad, Forster, and Woolf, Michigan 1990
  • "Posthumous Was A Woman: World War I Memorials and Woolf's Dead Poet's Society," in Woolf Studies Annual 16 (2010), 45-69
  • "Mediumship, Automatism and Modernist Authorship," in Gender in Modernism: New Geographies, Complex Intersections, ed. Bonnie Kime Scott, Illinois 2007, 623-73
  • "Secretary to the Stars: Mediums and the Agency of Authorship," in Literary Secretaries/Secretarial Culture, ed. Leah Price and Pamela Thurschwell, Ashgate 2005
  • "Of Mimicry and English Men: E. M. Forster and the Performance of Masculinity," in A Passage to India, ed. Tony Davies and Nigel Wood, Theory in Practice Series, Open University Press 1994, 90-120
  • "Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, and the Spectacle of Masculinity," in PMLA 108 (1993), 253-67
  • "Guerrilla in Petticoats or Sans-culotte? Virginia Woolf and the Future of Feminist Criticism," in diacritics 21 (1991), 11-29
  • "The Pleasures of Submission: Jane Eyre and the Production of the Text," in ELH 58 (1991), 195-213