Step-daughters of England: British Women Modernists and the National Imaginary

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Manchester University Press, 2003 - 349 pages
Jane Garrity shows how four British women modernists - Dorothy Richardson, Sylvia Townsend Warner, Mary Butts and Virginia Woolf - used experimental literary techniques in order to situate themselves as national subjects. Reading literary texts through the lens of material culture, this book makes a major contribution to the new modernist studies by arguing that women's imaginative work is inseparable from their ambivalent and complicated relation to Britain's imperial history. Drawing on extensive archival research, Garrity takes as her point of departure the ubiquitous maternal and racial link to national identification during the interwar period. Each chapter foregrounds a different range of cultural developments that coincided with the rise of modernism, such as emerging visual techniques, the revival of British neo-medievalism, ethnographic work on primitive mysticism, and nostalgia for English ruralism. By locating both canonical and non-canonical works of female literary modernism within broader cultural discourses, Garrity demonstrates the intersections among nationalism, imperialism, gender and sexuality in the construction of English national culture.

From inside the book


Acknowledgements page
British womanhood and national culture
Dorothy Richardsons spectatrix
Sylvia Townsend Warner and the primitive
racial memory and the daughters mystical
national desire imperial nostalgia
rebuilding the house of England

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About the author (2003)

Jane Garrity is Associate Professor of English at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

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