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Picture of The Demeter-Persephone Myth as Writing Ritual in the Lives of Literary Women

The Demeter-Persephone Myth as Writing Ritual in the Lives of Literary Women

Author(s): Jana Rivers Norton
Contributors: Jana Rivers-Norton;
Subject: Gender Studies

Book Description

This volume explores the life stories of Elizabeth Bishop, Virginia Woolf, Alice James, and Edith Wharton, whose individuation process mirrored Demeter/Persephone’s mythic journey from abduction and rage to purposeful reconciliation. These authors often courted humiliation and consequent exile by voicing what others did not want to acknowledge, yet each took restorative action to discover and preserve emotional and mental wellbeing. Writing during the 19th and early 20th centuries when an association between female authors and physical ailments, neurasthenia, hysteria, and other nervous complaints by the medical paternity reflected how society in general understood mental illness, as well as the narrative perceptions of women, Bishop, Woolf, James and Wharton, claimed personal autonomy by speaking truth about sorrow and suffering in their lives. Despite restrictions and limiting gender norms, each author continuously recast painful experiences of loss, abuse and mental illness, as fodder for the imagination to forge lasting literary careers.

The book emphasizes the therapeutic value of narrative disclosure and its ability to yield a deeper understanding of the impact of childhood trauma and adversity on women writers, and how their creative response shaped modern culture. As such, it contextualizes trauma as lived experience for each writer, along with current research on early loss and mourning, childhood abuse, and family systems theory, in order to appreciate more fully how writing as ritual may help transform mental and emotional debility.


ISBN-13: 978-1-4438-0141-6
ISBN-10: 1-4438-0141-0
Date of Publication: 01/12/2016
Pages / Size: 205 / A5
Price: £52.99


Dr Jana Rivers Norton has been a college instructor for more than 25 years. She has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in Psychology, Gender Studies, the Psychology of Creativity and Narrative as Therapeutic Disclosure at several institutions including Humboldt State University and the University of New Mexico, Gallup. Her research focuses on creativity and mythos, trauma and abuse, the literary arts and gender, and writing. Her peer- reviewed articles can be found in journals such as ReVision: A Journal of Consciousness and Transformation and the International Journal of the Humanities. Her first book, Taming Trauma’s Wake, was published in 2009. Dr Norton currently teaches full time at Cochise College, Santa Cruz in Nogales, Arizona.