Book Announcement: The Demeter-Persephone Myth as Writing Ritual in the Lives of Literary Women

The Demeter-Persephone Myth as Writing Ritual in the Lives of Literary Women now available from Cambridge Scholars Publishing

Hardback, pp205, £52.99 / $90.95

Cambridge Scholars Publishing is pleased to announce the publication of The Demeter-Persephone Myth as Writing Ritual in the Lives of Literary Women by Jana Rivers Norton.

This volume explores the life stories of Elizabeth Bishop, Virginia Woolf, Alice James, and Edith Wharton, whose individuation process mirrored Demeter/Persephone’s mythic journey from abduction and rage to purposeful reconciliation. These authors often courted humiliation and consequent exile by voicing what others did not want to acknowledge, yet each took restorative action to discover and preserve emotional and mental wellbeing.

The book emphasizes the therapeutic value of narrative disclosure and its ability to yield a deeper understanding of the impact of childhood trauma and adversity on women writers, and how their creative response shaped modern culture. As such, it contextualizes trauma as lived experience for each writer, along with current research on early loss and mourning, childhood abuse, and family systems theory, in order to appreciate more fully how writing as ritual may help transform mental and emotional debility.

On the global stage, the body becomes the ultimate commodity: the fetish of ecstatic consumption, as it is persistently mobilized by the search for ecstatic avatar (anti)forms. Whether these forms provide an escape into a utopian space or further enhance the dystopian ecstasy is a crucial query framing this book. As it shows, the works of DeLillo, Smiley, Piercy, Abu-Jaber, Lee, Auslander, and Torres provide important and challenging commentaries on the ecstatic gaze of global dystopia, particularly its appetite for alterity and the tragic, often disguised as interchangeable metaphors of Otherness, fear, anxiety, terror, pain, and pleasure, titillation, exoticism, and ecstasy. Consequently, the book sheds light on the ways in which the culture of spectacle is ever-evolving, manipulating and affecting the global dependence on the ecstasy of consumption and its many different forms.

“This marvelous book, as an example of first-rate scholarship, pulls together the spin given to this complex mother-daughter relationship by four eminent writers. However, Bishop, Woolf, James, and Wharton were creatures of their time, and their eras were not exactly friendly to creative women, especially if they had literary talents. These four essays, each one fascinating and inspired, can be seen as microcosms of their own lives, and the struggles still faced by many brilliant women to make their voices heard.”

Stanley Krippner, Professor of Psychology, Saybrook University

“In her illuminating new book, feminist scholar Jana Rivers-Norton uses the myth of Demeter and Persephone to show how four prominent women authors found writing therapeutic to track their descent and re-integration, and transformation from victim to creator. [It is] highly recommended for psychotherapists and women as a mythic lens to understand and work through intergenerational trauma.”

Ilene A. Serlin, Fellow of the American Psychological Association; Associated Distinguished Professor of the California Institute of Integral Studies

“In this beautifully written book, Rivers-Norton gives us both the exquisite sensitivity and scholarly excellence to make this book a classic.”

Ruth Richards, PhD, MD, College of Social Sciences, Saybrook University

To read a full summary of the book and to read a 30-page sample extract, which includes the table of contents, please visit the following link:

The Demeter-Persephone Myth as Writing Ritual in the Lives of Literary Women can be purchased directly from Cambridge Scholars, through Amazon and other online retailers, or through our global network of distributors. Our partners include Bertram, Gardners, Baker & Taylor, Ingram, YBP, Inspirees and MHM Limited. An e-book version will be available for purchase through the Google Play store in due course.

For further information on placing an order for this title, please contact

About the Author

Dr Jana Rivers Norton has been a college instructor for more than 25 years. She has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in Psychology, Gender Studies, the Psychology of Creativity and Narrative as Therapeutic Disclosure at several institutions including Humboldt State University and the University of New Mexico, Gallup.  Her research focuses on creativity and mythos, trauma and abuse, the literary arts and gender, and writing. Her peer- reviewed articles can be found in journals such as ReVision: A Journal of Consciousness and Transformation and the International Journal of the Humanities. Her first book, Taming Trauma’s Wake, was published in 2009. Dr Norton currently teaches full time at Cochise College, Santa Cruz in Nogales, Arizona.

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