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“Lee is thoughtful and insightful,” says Friend’s research mentor, Debbie Byrd. “She writes with great elegance and clarity. She is ambitious, she is someone who likes to challenge herself and is not scared of difficult tasks. I admire her ability to work on Lessing.”

Lee Ann Friend, a senior English major from Orange, Conn., and a graduate of Amity High School, Woodbridge, Conn., is taking a unique approach to the work of the renowned contemporary British author Doris Lessing in an intensive, year-long research project at Lafayette College.

Friend’s project is the study of Lessing’s novel The Golden Notebook. Friend, a senior English major, is pursuing departmental honors, working with Deborah L. Byrd, associate professor of English and coordinator of the Women’s Studies program.

One of the most complex and widely read of Lessing’s novels, The Golden Notebook is regarded as a feminist classic. In the book, Anna Freeman, a writer, attempts to come to terms with the life of her times through her art.

Friend explains the distinctive focus of her research.

“My approach to Lessing is cultural, with a focus on women living their lives and their dreams through others,” she says. “I am examining several issues, such as women’s relationships with society, women and their mothers, women and sexuality, male-female relationships, and others.

“The book challenges women to become whole,” she continues. “Anna divides herself into a series of notebooks. Not until she combines those notebooks does she become a whole woman. Anna and her notebooks represent how contemporary women can reclaim their inner self, how they can struggle with madness and creativity in a patriarchal society.”

Byrd says, “Lee is thoughtful and insightful. She writes with great elegance and clarity. She is ambitious, she is someone who likes to challenge herself and is not scared of difficult tasks. I admire her ability to work on Lessing.”

Byrd’s teaching and research specialties include in Romantic and Victorian poetry, women’s studies, and Irish literature. She is currently writing a book on Elizabeth Barrett Browning. She relishes opportunities to work with intelligent, highly motivated students such as Friend. Friend’s own research methods, Byrd notes, reflect the work she’s studying.

“Lee’s keeping notebooks as she studies Lessing,” Byrd says. “She is paralleling the insightful and self-critical process exemplified in Lessing.”

Another Side of Lee

She is interning this fall with Men’s Health magazine, published by Rodale Press, Emmaus, Pa., under the auspices of the English department. She says she hopes her work in corporate communications may lead to a career in public relations and writing after graduation.

As a Writing Associate in Lafayette’s College Writing Program, she is assisting students with their writing assignments in the First-Year Seminar “Latinos, Latinas, and the U.S.” taught by Sidney E. Donnell, assistant professor of foreign languages and literature. She’s a copy editor for The Lafayette, the College’s student newspaper.

Last year she was a member of Lafayette’s distinctive McKelvy House Scholars Program, in which 19 students of outstanding academic promise and achievement reside together in a historic off-campus house and participate in shared intellectual and social activities. She authored an article entitled “New England in the 17th and 19th Centuries” in the 1999 edition of The McKelvy Papers, an annual journal of student scholarship.

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