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The Passion Projects

Modernist Women, Intimate Archives, Unfinished Lives

Melanie Micir

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Belletristik / Essays, Feuilleton, Literaturkritik, Interviews

Beschreibung

How modernist women writers used biographical writing to resist their exclusion from literary history

It’s impossible, now, to think of modernism without thinking about gender, sexuality, and the diverse movers and shakers of the early twentieth century. But this was not always so. The Passion Projects examines biographical projects that modernist women writers undertook to resist the exclusion of their friends, colleagues, lovers, and companions from literary history. Many of these works were vibrant efforts of modernist countermemory and counterhistory that became casualties in a midcentury battle for literary legitimacy, but that now add a new dimension to our appreciation of such figures as Radclyffe Hall, Gertrude Stein, Hope Mirrlees, and Sylvia Beach, among many others.

Melanie Micir explores an extensive body of material, including Sylvia Townsend Warner’s carefullly annotated letters to her partner Valentine Ackland, Djuna Barnes’s fragmented drafts about the Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, Margaret Anderson’s collection of modernist artifacts, and Virginia Woolf’s joke biography of her friend and lover Vita Sackville-West, the novel Orlando. Whether published in encoded desire or squirreled away in intimate archives, these “passion projects” recorded life then in order to summon an audience now, and stand as important predecessors of queer and feminist recovery projects that have shaped the contemporary understanding of the field.

Arguing for the importance of biography, The Passion Projects shows how women turned to this genre in the early twentieth century to preserve their lives and communities for future generations to discover.

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Jane Ellen Harrison, William Carlos Williams, Feminist history, The Little Review, Jack Halberstam, Mentorship, Symptom, Biographical criticism, Criticism, Publication, Memoir, Type design, Typeface, Shakespeare and Company (bookstore), Literary modernism, Virginia Woolf, T. H. White, Cambridge University Press, Sylvia Townsend Warner, Hogarth Press, Archive, Hope Mirrlees, Rhetoric, Three Lives, Affair, Modernity, Vera Brittain, Autobiography, Alice B. Toklas, Future History (Heinlein), Font Bureau, Sean, Typography, Feminist literary criticism, Ezra Pound, Homosexuality, Jessa Crispin, Harry Ransom Center, Biographical novel, Sylvia Beach, Radclyffe Hall, George Eliot, Djuna Barnes, Men Explain Things to Me, Suggestion, Writer, Leonard Woolf, Bildungsroman, She Died, Genre, Archivist, Thirty Years' War, Edward Said, Modernism, Writing, Anecdote, Queer theory, Jane Heap, Amateur, Life writing, Berenice Abbott, V., New Criticism, Personal life, The Other Hand, Lesbian, Scrutiny (journal), Mrs., A Room of One's Own, Literary criticism, Janet Flanner, Valentine Ackland, Curator, Career, Vita Sackville-West, Irene Gammel, Poetry, Obscenity, Feminism, Mary Beard (classicist), Preface, Woolf, Biography, The Well of Loneliness, Winifred Holtby, Fiction, Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, Gertrude Stein, Novelist, Diary, Literature, J. (newspaper), Lytton Strachey, Pedagogy, Kate Zambreno, Romantic friendship, Prose, T. S. Eliot, Ann Cvetkovich, Narrative