Lisa’s latest – and long awaited – book, Selfish Women, will appear with Routledge in summer 2019.
This book proceeds from a single and very simple observation: throughout history, and up to the present, women have received a clear message: we are not supposed to prioritize ourselves. Indeed, the whole question of “self” is a problem for women – and a problem that issues from a wide range of locations, including, in some cases, feminism itself. When women espouse discourses of self-interest, self-regard, and selfishness, they become illegible. This is complicated by the commodification of the self in the recent Western mode of economic and political organization known as “neoliberalism,” which encourages a focus on self-fashioning that may not be identical with self-regard or self-interest.
Drawing on figures from French, US, and UK contexts, including Rachilde, Ayn Rand, Margaret Thatcher, and Lionel Shriver, and examining discourses from psychiatry, media, and feminism with the aim of reading against the grain of multiple orthodoxies, this book asks how revisiting the words and works of selfish women of modernity can assist us in understanding our fraught individual and collective identities as women in contemporary culture. And can women with politics that are contrary to the interests of the collective teach us anything about the value of rethinking the role of the individual?
It can be preordered on Amazon.co.uk here or from the publisher’s website here.
Lisa’s piece on Shamima Begum for the Birmingham Perspective appeared today. Writing it offered Lisa a chance to bring together and explore concerns central to her two current research projects: on the cultural understanding of women and extremism (or what she terms “(s)extremism”) and on the dangers of a shift in public discourse away from facts and reason and towards (knee-jerk) feelings – a cornerstone of populism and anti-intellectualism.
Lisa and Lara Cox have published a co-edited Special Issue of the journal Paragraph, of which Lisa is an editor, on the subject of Queering the Second Wave. The Special Issue has simultaneously been published as a stand-alone book by Edinburgh University Press.
It examines various ways in which the work of feminists writing in the 1970s and ’80s, including Shulamith Firestone, Marilyn Frye, and Gloria Anzaldúa, are prescient for the queer theory of later decades, despite the obvious ideological differences between them.
In the book, a number of world-leading and emerging Foucault scholars examine the thinker’s ongoing relevance for fields such as literature, critical race studies, queer theory, and ecology. They explore how Foucault offers unique and enduring insights for understanding concepts as broad as subjectivity, neoliberalism, sex, and ethics.
Lisa’s chapter examines the popular genre of true crime in light of Foucault’s writing on the figure of the criminal. Lisa examines how the methodology Foucault describes in I Pierre Rivière…(1976), which considers murder cases as anthropological dossiers about the mores of their time, has not been widely taken up. She proposes a reading of texts documenting the Moors Murders case, published from the 1960s to the present day, as examples of a Foucauldian murder dossier.
Lisa has collaborated with the artist Navine G. Khan-Dossos, whose work engages with the cultural treatment of women as both targets and perpetrators of violence. Navine contacted Lisa after having read her book The Subject of Murder, which theorizes the ways in which Western culture struggles to understand the figure of the exceptional violent woman.
On 31st October, Lisa participated in a filmed public conversation with Navine at the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, the site of Navine’s installation Echo Chamber, a non-representational engagement with the case of Samantha Lewthwaite, the British female Islamic convert and assumed terrorist.
More collaborations between Lisa and Navine are planned.
On 18th October, Lisa attended an event at the Horse Hospital in London to celebrate the launch of Joanne Ebenstein’s lavishly illustrated new book Death: A Graveside Companion(Thames and Hudson, 2017) which contains an essay on “Eros and Thanatos” by Lisa.
On 11 May 2017, an article which cited an interview with Lisa appeared in the Times Higher Education. The article, about the rise of the right-wing in Europe and its threat to intellectual freedoms in general, and the discipline of Gender Studies in particular, drew on Lisa’s interest in questions of liberalism, freedom, and censorship.
In October 2015, Lisa took material from the book she is currently writing – tentatively titled Selfish Women – north of the border, giving talks at four Scottish universities: Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, and Aberdeen.
The book examines the ways in which the concept of selfishness is a gendered one in the modern period. It examines debates concerning whether, in an age of unfettered neo-liberalism, it may be time to abandon the idea of the individual self, as argued by some critics of capitalism and of our atomized societies. In asking such questions, however, the book concerns itself with the possible repercussions of such a move for those occupying non-male, non-white, non-hegemonic subject positions.
Speaking at the University of Dundee on “Selfish Cinema: Adaptations of Ayn Rand for the Screen”.
Speaking at the University of Aberdeen on “Selfishness and Feminist Philosophy”.
On Wednesday 7th October, Lisa appeared on Laurie Taylor’s popular BBC Radio 4 programme ‘Thinking Allowed’ in a section about female serial killers. She was in discussion with criminologist Dr Elizabeth Yardley who has a new book out on making sense of women who commit serial murder.
You can listen to the programme on the BBC iPlayer here. (Section on murder begins at about 16:30 minutes in.)