Lady Canon Series

Next meet up :: Orlando by Virginia Woolf.

From Goodreads: "Virginia Woolf's Orlando 'The longest and most charming love letter in literature', playfully constructs the figure of Orlando as the fictional embodiment of Woolf's close friend and lover, Vita Sackville-West. Spanning three centuries, the novel opens as Orlando, a young nobleman in Elizabeth's England, awaits a visit from the Queen and traces his experience with first love as England under James I lies locked in the embrace of the Great Frost. At the midpoint of the novel, Orlando, now an ambassador in Constantinople, awakes to find that he is now a woman, and the novel indulges in farce and irony to consider the roles of women in the 18th and 19th centuries. As the novel ends in 1928, a year consonant with full suffrage for women. Orlando, now a wife and mother, stands poised at the brink of a future that holds new hope and promise for women."

Every book gets different treatment. Because Sally Potter's 1992 film starring Tilda Swinton is so gorgeous, we'll be screening Orlando a week before we have the discussion. You are welcome to come to one or both.

Film:: Tba 

Discussion :: Tuesday, October 22nd :: 7pm

“I shall speak about women’s writing: about what it will do. A woman must write herself: must write about women and bring women to writing, from which they have been driven away as violently as from their bodies – for the same reasons, by the same law, with the same fatal goal. Woman must put herself into the text – as into the world and into history – by her own movement.” Hélène Cixous. The Laugh Of The Medusa.


Once upon a time, a woman with a pen was as vilified as one with a wand. Witches were women who wanted to create something more than children. And many, many of these women were burned for this. For writing.


Inspired by The Madwoman In The Attic by Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar: “Female art has a ‘hidden’ tradition of uncontrollable madness.”


Inspired by From The Beast To The Blonde by Marina Warner: “The old nurse or crone’s connection with inflammatory foolish advice, with artful persuasion and insider’s erotic knowledge, led to their adoption as persuaders by a different variety of aspiring seducers: the storyteller.”


Inspired by Kate Zambreno’s Heroines: “I align myself with a genealogy of erased women.”


This academic reading series is dedicated to our literary foremothers. We will read one book a season. “Canon” is interpreted here very loosely, but still something synonymous with “greatness.” We will not be going in any kind of systematic order or staying inside genres. Our chronology will be that of water. (To quote Lidia Yuknavitch.)


In addition to the primary text chosen for each session, a bibliography of related secondary material will be made available, alongside a symbolic analysis of the chosen text as well. At a college-level, we will explore and deconstruct the themes of these salient texts. Through group discussion, we will discover things together. Outside of "class" students will also have the option to participate in a closed facebook group which will keep the topics alive between sessions and will allow for a deeper and more networked discussion on the texts, the authors, or our own writing endeavors.


This discussion series is for anyone interested in deep-diving into the refreshing, and sometimes difficult, waters of women's writing. There will be wine, Peaceful Parlour tea, and cheese. 


Some of the ladies we will be covering:


Jane Austen. Angela Carter. Sylvia Plath. Anaïs Nin. Djuna Barnes. Roxane Gay. Lidia Yuknavitch. J.K. Rowling. Alice Walker. Virginia Woolf. Christa Wolf. Simone de Beauvoir. bell hooks. Audre Lorde. George Eliot. Margaret Atwood. Ursula K Le Guin. Octavia Butler. Both Emily and Charlotte Brontë. Mary Shelley. Theresa Hak Kyung Cha. Kate Zambreno. Dorothy Parker. Marguerite Duras. Emily Dickenson. Julia Kristeva. Adrienne Rich. Shelley Jackson. Katherine Dunn. Joan Didion. Leslie Marmon Silko. Kathy Acker. Joy Harjo. Hélène Cixous. Anne Sexton. Toni Morrison. A.S. Byatt. Jeanette Winterson. Cheryl Strayed. Hannah Arrendt. Dodie Bellamy. 


This is not an exhaustive list.


Any mothers in their fourth trimester are welcome to bring their babies. My feminism is children inclusive, if you need to bring your kids, email me. 

Film :: Tba


Discussion :: Tuesday, October 22nd :: 7pm

Virginia Woolf :: Orlando.

$5-10 suggested donation.

This discussion series is led by Cathy Borders.

Links to previous Lady Canon things ::

Every discussion's supplemental reading will be different. Jane Eyre's had more of an academic flavor. For Women Who Run With The Wolves I provided wild writing prompts and Adrienne Rich's poem Diving Into The Wreck.

About this teaching artist:

Cathy Borders is the founder and Program Director of The Republic of Letters. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from the New School in New York and a Bachelor’s in English literature and critical theory from the University of Iowa. She’s the author of A Suburb of Monogamy, an experimental novel about the invention, withdrawal, and body of a liaison. She also founded the micropress, Omnia Vanitas Review, and has been a professional editor for over a decade. She thinks of writing differently, as something much more interesting, much more important than a thing you produce for money. She’s been published in Madhatter’s Review, Ampersand Review, Green Lantern Press, and Reconfigurations, among others. She’s now working on her second novel, a young adult fantasy whose raison d'être is emotional clarity and connection, as well as a comprehensive book on using the tarot to write fiction. Her chapbook, Robin Williams Is My Uncle, is forthcoming from Analog Books. 

About the art:

Statue of a Seated Woman

Rome. 2nd Century AD.

From the Art Institute's webpage ::

"Roman sculptors often adapted the forms of earlier Greek artworks for use in entirely new contexts. This statue evokes the figures of seated, draped goddesses displayed in the pediments of the Parthenon, the renowned temple on the Acropolis in Athens. Among the Romans, this statue type was widely used for sculptures of female deities such as Juno (the Greek Hera), the consort of Jupiter (the Greek Zeus), as well as for portraits of empresses and other prominent women. Here the figure’s head and arms, now missing, were made separately and attached by means of dowels, the holes for which are visible."

The Republic of Letters NFP

RoL is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization

  • w-facebook
  • White Instagram Icon

Geneva, Illinois 60134