NTU Researchers Revealed series features Dr Jenni Ramone

NTU Researchers Revealed series features Dr Jenni Ramone

 August 24, 2023

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Meet Nottingham Trent University (NTU), Associate Professor in the School of Arts & Humanities, Dr Jenni Ramone.

Jenni focuses on representations of breastfeeding in global art and literature, comparing located (particular, material contexts) and global representations of breastfeeding in literary texts and works of art.

As part of NTU's Researchers Revealed series, Jenni shares more about her research on re-writing the narrative around breastfeeding experiences.

So why does breastfeeding make people so uncomfortable? Why is it such a fiercely debated topic? Before the invention of formula milk and the breast pump, humanity’s reliance on breastfeeding was more straightforward. But today, the realities and complexities of breastfeeding are often either taboo, unspoken, or romanticised in art galleries and museums, such as in the famous artwork depicting the nursing Madonna.

Starting a research career 

NTU Jenni Ramone

"Even though I had a relatively easy breastfeeding experience, I experienced some of the turmoil many of the parents who can’t breastfeed often describe," shares Jenni. "I felt significant outside pressure related to breastfeeding, and to begin weaning earlier than my baby needed because of other people’s views of what was ‘normal’."

Before returning to university to start her research career, Jenni worked in a graduate IT role for a while.

"Whilst working in that graduate role I commuted on trains, which meant a lot of time for reading. One day, I was re-reading Voltaire's Candide, and suddenly realised that if I didn't go back to university, I would never have the opportunity to write an essay on Candide, or anything else, ever again," says Jenni. 

"My graduate role was fascinating, but it didn’t give me the same sense of satisfaction and inspiration achieved from creating something new, and discovering new ways to think about a subject. So, I decided to apply for a PhD and was lucky enough to receive a fully-funded studentship, which meant my fees were paid for by the university, and I was given extra funding to cover my living expenses too. After completing my PhD, I started a full-time permanent lectureship, and four years later, my daughter was born."

Exploring gender in twenty-first century global literature

Jenni began researching contemporary postcolonial and world literature in English and in English translation, thinking about how literary texts are received, the impact they have, who reads them, where, why, and how literary texts address their historical, political and cultural contexts.

"My first book was on a single author, while my second explored postcolonial literatures and theories from across the world. I expanded on this for my third book where I wrote about what reading means in Nigeria, India, Cuba and in Black British Writing. My fourth book will be published soon: exploring gender in twenty-first century global literature," she shares. 

Revealing new and previously hidden stories

The scope of Jenni's research meant that she had the opportunity to read widely, and she came across several fascinating representations of early motherhood and breastfeeding.

"Most of them were uncomfortable, painful, and even traumatic. I thought back to my own experience of breastfeeding and decided I wanted to support new parents and healthcare professionals by drawing on art and literature to make people aware of more varied breastfeeding practices, to move away from the very limited, ‘official’ breastfeeding narrative which is restrictive and inaccessible to many parents, and can be harmful as a result," Jenni explains. 

"My research explores the representation of breastfeeding in contemporary global literature and art. The variety of representations and local, national and historical contexts means every image and every text is a rich source to explore. The texts and art works themselves are fascinating: from short stories, to novels, paintings and art installations."

By bringing these different narratives to light, Jenni is revealing new, previously hidden breastfeeding stories. With these stories, Jenni aims to improve the experience, health and happiness of new parents and babies by showing them there is not just one way to breastfeed.

"I want to make their experience easier, more comfortable, more accessible, and easier to talk about. My work aims to provide a cross-disciplinary solution to support parents and healthcare professionals, which is informed by global practices, histories, and stories of breastfeeding," she says. "To me, research means finding new, and exciting ideas, and navigating through them in a valuable and meaningful way. Research connects me to people from other departments, disciplines and universities, from different fields and sectors, and with the public. I feel happiest when I am researching and I never want the day to end."

Powerful stories to tell 

NTU researchers come from a variety of backgrounds, and they all have a powerful story to tell.

In the Researchers Revealed series, NTU researchers share their stories - from mothers, dancers and engineers, to therefugees, survivors and volunteers. 

NTU employs impressive women in academia

Interested in becoming a lecturer or researcher at NTU?

Check out NTU's career vacancies and apply. 


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