Online Research Network: Catherine Coldstream and Dr Felicity James

Our research network is an online global meeting space for researchers in the field of life-writing. This event is open to members only. Find out more about joining here:

Catherine Coldstream, ‘Writing Closed Worlds’

In her memoir, Cloistered, Catherine Coldstream tells the story of her twelve years in a traditional silent monastery in the 1990s. In this talk she will be discussing her experience of writing about life in a closed world, and how she met the challenge of conveying an essentially ‘hidden’ life in narrative form.

Catherine Coldstream was born in London, and has studied at the Universities of Oxford, East Anglia, and Goldsmiths, London. After converting to Roman Catholicism, in her twenties, she entered the Carmelite order as an enclosed nun. Since leaving monastic life she has taught philosophy and ethics in schools and completed a doctorate in Creative Writing (Memoir) at Goldsmiths.

Dr Felicity James, ‘The Many Lives of Mary Lamb’

This talk will explore absences and illness in the writing of Mary Lamb (1764-1847). Her life-writing is fragmentary, glimpsed in her stories for children, letters, one polemic essay; writing about her life is often constrained by difficulty in describing her mental illness and her matricide. We will focus on her evasive, intriguing tales for children and how to read their hidden stories of grief, loss, belief and consolation.

Felicity James teaches eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literature, and creative writing, at the University of Leicester, in the School of Arts and the Centre for Empathic Healthcare. She is editing the children’s writing of Charles and Mary Lamb for the Oxford Collected Works; more broadly, she researches religious dissent, specifically Unitarianism, and its rich literary culture.