A Mother’s Love

Infanticidal Sacrifice in Toni Morrison’s Beloved

"I took and put my babies where they'd be safe."

OIPEarlier in the year I was fortunate enough to work with Durham Univeristy‘s Postgraduate English: A Journal and Forum for Postgraduates in English, where I wrote a research article discussing infancticidal guilt and sacrifice in Toni Morrison’s Beloved. Entitled Narrative Burial and the Pleasure Principle: A Freudian Reading of Trauma in Toni Morrison’s Beloved this article explores Morrison’s thoughtful discussion of maternal love and the pain of killing one’s child.  In a complementary post written for the blog READ: Research in English At Durham, I talk further about how infanticidal sacrifice is the novel’s central trauma that simultaneously remains buried in Sethe’s subconcious, yet also manifests as a tormenting punishment. Below is an excerpt from this reading.  Continue reading

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An Independent Woman

Hester Prynne and Creative Agency in The Scarlet Letter

“If people can’t handle the truth, it’s really not my problem”
  Hester Prynne is one of American literature’s most renowned heroines, and this week I imageswas lucky enough to publish an academic article analysing her courage and moral fortitude. Published in the 30th volume of FORUM: University of Edinburgh Postgraduate Journal of Culture and Arts, my article explores ‘Creative Agency in The Scarlet Letter‘. In this issue of FORUM, the thematic concern explores Creative Resistance and how it emerges in different forms, in different cultures. My response looks at creative resistance in 19th Century American literature, providing a critical analysis of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s employment of artistic defiance in The Scarlet Letter. In reading Hester Prynne’s artistic ability and theological dissent as tools of creative resistance, the article claims that Hawthorne uses self-expression to critique Puritan values and in turn establish a sense of autonomy and creative agency for Hester.
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Own Your Story: Un-becoming Jo March

“I'm happy as I am, and love my liberty too well to be 
in a hurry to give it up for any mortal man” -Little Women.
By Nicoletta Peddis (@MissNicolettaP)
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“I think I shall write books, and get rich and famous; that would suit me, so that is my favourite dream”.

I’ve always loved Little Women. My mother bought me my first copy when I was 8 years old, and I carried it with me as a child, as a teenage girl and as a woman, and I never stopped reading it. From the first time I read it, I was hooked on Jo March. She was a tomboy in a world where she was supposed to be anything but. She had enough independence and self-awareness to know she shouldn’t marry a boy she liked but didn’t love. She was adventurous and forged her own way in the world – and she did it through the power of writing, no less. Continue reading

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A Compassionate Comment

Meghan Markle and the Return of Inspired Living

"This type of work is what feeds my soul and fuels my purpose".
-Meghan Markle, The Tig
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“It is said that girls with dreams become women with vision”, The Tig.

When I think about Meghan Markle and her decision to step down from official royal duties, I do feel sorry for her. It must not have been an easy step to make and let’s face it, the extent of public attention must be embarrassing. Now in this post, I won’t attempt to analyze the quagmire that is the reason for Sussex’s break from the Royal firm – frankly, I think we can never truly know and it may be none of our business to pass judgement. Instead, I intend to look at the situation from a feminist and compassionate stance. Continue reading

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The Unique-st Girl in Town

Chyna Unique, the ASMRtist and Youtube Queen

“You have to make time for yourself in order to love yourself;
 you have to know yourself … listen to your mind” - Whispering 
Self Love Tips video
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Chyna Unique, star of ChynaUnique AMSR.

Chyna Unique is an ASMRtist. For those of you who don’t know, ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response and refers to that tingly and relaxing feeling induced by certain sounds, visual stimuli and tactility. Over the past few years, ASMR has taken the online world by storm, with Youtube being inundated with an array of absolutely divine videos and triggers helping us to unwind and better our sleep.

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One Woman’s Search For Everything

Elizabeth Gilbert and her spiritual memoir Eat Pray Love

“This was my moment to look for the kind of healing and peace 
that can only come from solitude”- p.8.
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Liz and her toothless medicine man, Ketut, in Bali.

Reading Eat Pray Love changed my life. It revolutionised my view of the world, and my relation to it. I become calmer. I became kinder. I became more loving and compassionate. Above all, I became myself again. In essence, Eat Pray Love affected me to my very core. Continue reading

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Feminism Gone Mad? Keira Knightley, Mothering and the Case Against the Disney Princess

A speech presented as part of the University of Edinburgh’s Literatures, Languages and Cultures Graduate School’s LLC BLethers event, questioning how we acknowledge the areas of feminist philosophy we find personally uncomfortable.

“As you may have guessed from the title, this presentation will not be discussing any Picture1personal postgraduate or LLC related topic of interest. Instead, I feel the need to address that irritating celebrity input, where big-time movie stars, singers etc put in their two-penneth about the way we ordinary people conduct our lives, and in the process make some pretentious comment: think Gwyneth Paltrow and her proclamation that we should all only ever eat organic food because of its naturalness, regardless of the fact that for the non-millionaires out there organic goods are not always the cheapest of products. A trivial example perhaps for some, but nevertheless really annoying. But alas we are not here to talk about Gwyneth’s proclamation, we are here to talk about Keira Knigthley’s. Continue reading

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Feminism Gone Mad? Keira Knightley, mothering and the case against the Disney princess

Inciting Sparks

By Tia Byer | March 25, 2019

A presentation by Tia Byer, “Feminism Gone Mad? Keira Knightley, mothering and the case against the Disney princess”.

Tia won the award for ‘Most Controversial’ at LLC Blethers, an evening of academic storytelling with the University of Edinburgh, February 2019.

Audio recorded for Inciting Sparks by Anna Thurn.


About Tia

Tia is currently an MSc student in United States Literature and Cultural Values at the University of Edinburgh. Prior to this, she received her undergraduate degree in English Literature from York St John University with a dissertation entitled, ‘”Literature for our Democracy”: The American Renaissance and American Mythology”. Her postgraduate dissertation interrogates the national subjectivity and American cultural inferiority complex in Henry James’ The Europeans and ‘Daisy Miller’, and Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence. In her spare time she writes for the University of Edinburgh’s The Student newspaper, and for ‘Feminism Through…

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Black History Month

Textual Bodies and Blackness in Grace Nichols, ‘The Fat Black Woman’s Poems’

"To put soap in the slimming industry's profitspoken mouth".
Grace Nichols

Nichols’s 1984 poetry collection, ‘The Fat Black Woman’s Poems’.

In light of this years’ Black History month, I dedicate this blog post to the wonderfully talented Grace Nichols; authoress of ‘The Fat Black Woman’s Poems’(1984). The Guyanese poet has played an instrumental role in developing understanding in the UK of the cultural Caribbean-British culture. Nichols is also identifiable for being among the West-Indian poets whose work addressed the political debates surrounding immigration during Margaret Thatcher’s government.

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The Romantic Individual

Romanticism, Individualism and Feminism in Mary Wollstonecraft’s ‘From Letters Written During a Short Residence in Sweden’.

"I cannot bear to think of being no more - of losing myself"
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The Fore-mother of Feminism: Mary Wollstonecraft

Romanticism is a literary movement that is most commonly associated with “the expression of a division between the self and society” (Simpson, 1993, p.32). This period spanned from 1787, with the establishment of the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Trade in slaves, and ended with Passage of the Reform Act in Parliament in 1832. The individual was born during this period, as for Butler (1981), “thinkers of the Eighteenth-century Enlightenment had been much given to a study of man in his social context, which was not necessarily a reassuring perspective” (p.2). This blog post is a dedication to my favourite romantic individual, who just so happens to be a female (surprise surprise); Mary Wollstonecraft.

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