On Wednesday, April 10th, Fordham faculty members gathered for a workshop on the Nobel Prize-winning author Doris Lessing (1919-2013). Professor Chris GoGwilt convened the group, and he and Professor Anne Fernald moderated the conversation.
After short papers by Profs. Seda Arikan and Cornelius Collins, the group discussed Lessing's evolving ethical commitments over her long career.
Among other issues, the group discussed Lessing's shift from an ethics of virtue in the 1950s (as seen in the Children of Violence novel cycle) toward an ethics of self-care by the 1980s (as seen in the novel The Good Terrorist); her short story "An Old Woman and Her Cat," her wider interest in cats and the nonhuman, and how that might connect to a contemporary ethics that extends beyond the human; how Lessing's dedication to Sufism compares with Iris Murdoch's Platonism; and Lessing's often unrecognized irony, humor, and gift for satirical mimicry.
Seda Arıkan teaches at Firat University in Turkey at the Department of Western Languages and Literatures. She is at Fordham as a visiting scholar and currently working on her book about ethics in Doris Lessing's novels.
Cornelius Collins teaches literature and writing here in the Fordham English department, and he is the outgoing president of the Doris Lessing Society and will soon take the helm as co-editor-in-chief of Doris Lessing Studies.
Anne Fernald is Professor of English & Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Beginning in Fall 2019, she will be co-editor-in-chief of the journal Modernism/modernity.