Gendered Lives Mini-Profiles: Professor Nóra Séllei

Nóra Séllei is from Hungary, working for the Department of British Studies, Institute of English and American Studies at the University of Debrecen as a Professor of English, but she is also the founder of gender studies at the university, and the head of the Gender Studies Centre (http://ieas.unideb.hu/index.php?p=465&l=en). Apart from doing research and publishing several monographs, edited volumes and more than a hundred articles on Victorian and modernist women writers in English literature, she is particularly interested in gendered lives. In 2001, she published a monograph in Hungarian on autobiographical texts by twentieth-century women writers. The basic question posed in the monograph is how the female autobiographical subject is (self-)constructed in Virginia Woolf’s “A Sketch of the Past”, Gertrude Stein’s “Ada” and The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, Jean Rhys’ Smile Please, Mary McCarthy’s Memoirs of a Catholic Girlhood, and in a text by a Hungarian modernist woman: Margit Kaffka. Some of these chapters, even if not in their entirety, are available in English too. In addition, she also published an article on Sylvia Plath’s highly autobiographical novel, The Bell Jar, which was selected for republication for Janet McCann’s Critical Insights: The Bell Jar (Passadena, Cal.: Salem Press, 2012.) A further research article written by her is entitled “The Mother in Mourning as the Subject of Autobiography in Rosamond Lehmann’s The Swan in the Evening: Fragments of an Inner Life” that came out in Maternal Subjectivities, in the volume The Personal to the Political: Towards A New Theory of Maternal Narrative edited by Silvia Caporale and Andrea O’Reilly (Selinsgrove: Susquehanna UP, 2009). Her most recent publication in the area of life writing is in Hungarian, a long article (about 80.000 characters) on the war memoir (available in English: One Woman in the War) by a Hungarian woman writer, Alaine Polcz, where she basically tackles the issue of women’s victimisation in war, including rape.

In 2007, she gained an Andrew Mellon scholarship to the Institute of Advanced Studies at the University of Edinburgh, where her research topic was life writing by women. From 2011 to 2013 she participated, as the leader of the Hungarian team, in an international, EU-funded Grundtvig project that was related to gendered lives: “Is Women’s Education (at) Risk”, which asked – and tried to answer – questions relating to the market value of degrees gained by women, and the Hungarian team’s research was based on twelve in-depth interviews: gendered live narratives by women with an arts degree.

She is not only a scholar, but also the Hungarian translator of Virginia Woolf’s Moments of Being and Three Guineas, and Jean Rhys’s Smile, Please.

You can see her full profile at http://ieas.unideb.hu/sellei (click on the English language sign at the top).

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