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Helen Charman
Helen Charman is a writer and academic based in Glasgow. Her first book, Mother State – a political history of motherhood — is forthcoming from Allen Lane in 2024. She teaches in the English Studies department at Durham University.

Articles Available Online


Attachment Barbies: On Watching Grey’s Anatomy

Essay

March 2023

Helen Charman

Essay

March 2023

In August 2022, ABC announced that Ellen Pompeo, currently the highest-paid actress on American network television, was leaving Grey’s Anatomy, the show on which...

Book Review

May 2021

HOLDING THE ROOM: ON HOLLY PESTER’S ‘COMIC TIMING’

Helen Charman

Book Review

May 2021

The last poem in Holly Pester’s first collection COMIC TIMING (Granta, 2021) is called ‘Villette’; it shares its title...

‘Womanhood’ is a troubled concept in the world of Semiramis Gathered together for Tai Shani’s first institutional solo exhibition, at The Tetley in Leeds, are the videos, prints and sculptural installations that make up Dark Continent – a project four years in the making, titled after Freud’s description of female sexuality To wander through the galleries is like diving vagina-first into a cyborgian erotic tunnel, in which strange and magnificent characters tell tales of squirting fluids and menstrual blood In a room displaying documentation of her performances at Glasgow International in 2018, I put on a pair of headphones A voice informs me that its ‘cute pussy’ has something to tell me: the characters in this show will not be women any longer, for to be called ‘wo-man’ is to be tied to men through the language of the lack, to the absence of male genitalia   Semiramis is inspired by The Book of the City of Ladies, an early feminist text by the French Renaissance writer Christine de Pizan, written in 1405 Considered Pizan’s most important work, it was written with the intention of countering the notion that women were of a lesser species Pizan imagined the book as a symbolic city in which to house the biographies of historically significant women, shielding them from misogynistic attack The book is an early example of a feminist biographical catalogue, a genre which celebrates the lives of figures from history and myth   Taking Pizan’s book, and blending it with feminist science fiction, Shani has created her own gothic world of characters In Vampyre (2017) – one of several large, single screen moving image installations shown in dimly lit rooms – I encounter a head with a halo of blonde locks and fanged teeth Floating among waves and marine bioluminescence, she is forever trapped in a liminal state between life and death Other characters include The Neanderthal (2018); The Woman on the Edge of Time (2018), the title of which Shani has borrowed from Marge Piercy’s 1976 classic work of speculative feminist science fiction; and Mnemesoid (2018), the human embodiment of an open source database trying

Contributor

November 2017

Helen Charman

Contributor

November 2017

Helen Charman is a writer and academic based in Glasgow. Her first book, Mother State – a political history...

Essay

May 2020

Where do I put myself, if public life’s destroyed? On reading Denise Riley

Helen Charman

Essay

May 2020

How do you read someone who doesn’t always want to be read? This is a question I used to...

Sally Rooney’s ‘Normal People’

Book Review

October 2018

Helen Charman

Book Review

October 2018

Reading Sally Rooney’s second novel Normal People is a compulsive experience. After the navy blue Faber & Faber proofs were sent out in early...
Rendering intimacy impossible, deploy lifeboats (mark yourself safe) Not listening as such, more waiting to speak, above all mark yourself, it’s so important to be safe Carry on, they demand, we’re not reeling / we are reeling Is this the place for a fountain reference? Probably ‘What first attracted you to your wife, sir?’ ‘Her delicacy / her ankles / her hatred of the Tories’                  Alive twice over but that’s a whole life gone too                you know I’m sorry, he holds his hands up, I’m                sorry, he backs away: my conscience couldn’t                keep company with your body I say, your body?                it just made me think: it’s only a nine month stay   The next time you lay a hand on me, I’ll make a perfect gleaming dive into the Thames Aren’t you glad / to be here? I am
Electioneering

Prize Entry

November 2017

Helen Charman


READ NEXT

feature

October 2011

The New Global Literature? Marjane Satrapi and the Depiction of Conflict in Comics

Jessica Copley

feature

October 2011

Over the last ten years graphic novels have undergone a transformation in the collective literary consciousness. Readers, editors and...

Art

Issue No. 6

Interview with Edmund de Waal

Emmeline Francis

Art

Issue No. 6

As we speak, Edmund de Waal, ceramicist and writer, moves his palms continually over the surface of the trestle...

feature

Issue No. 5

The White Review No. 5 Editorial

The Editors

feature

Issue No. 5

One of the two editors of The White Review recently committed a faux pas by reacting with undisguised and indeed...

 

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