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BONNIE KIME SCOTT
IN THE YEARS SINCE 1990, when with a team of collaborators I published The Gender of Modernism, both gender and modernism have remained lively categories-frequently featured in scholarly discussions, and surviving a variety of constructive challenges. "Gender" was introduced in the 1990 volume as
a category constructed through cultural and social systems. Unlike sex, it is not a biological fact determined at conception. [...] Gender is more fluid, flexible, and multiple in its options than the (so far) unchanging biological binary of male and female. In history, across cultures, and in the lifetime development of the individual, there are variations in what it means to be masculine, or feminine, in the availability of identifications such as asexual and androgynous, and in the social implications of lesbian, homosexual, and heterosexual orientations. (2)
Perhaps the most quoted statement in that introduction said that, by the middle of the twentieth century, canonical modernism had been "unconsciously gendered masculine" (2) in its selection of privileged authors, and in its style and concerns. Starting in the late 1970s, thanks largely to critiques organized by women of color, we began to acknowledge additional unspoken norms that have favored work that is heterosexual, white, representative of "high" culture and an academic middle class, or produced in the Northwestern quarter of the globe. Today, sex (down to various arrangements of X and Y chromosomes) is less regularly discussed as a simple binary. The transsexual and the intersex condition now routinely enter considerations of sexuality and the body. In the first decade of the twenty-first century, gender is most interesting as a system connected with and negotiated among various cultural identifiers. Understood within such complex intersections, gender has both greater and subtler implications. It is less often seen as a division between oppositional feminine and masculine traits or traditions. Gender studies now lead to a variety of activities, only one of which is the recuperative work so central to the gynocritics (so named by Elaine Showalter in the 1980s). The movement from author-centered chapters in The Gender of Modernism to chapters based primarily on themes and group identities in this book is one manifestation of this shift. The importance of gender as a modernist issue has only become more obvious over time. Ever more complex questions of gender must be tested in relation to modernist studies, if that area of study is to remain vital and relevant to our lives.
Scholars continue to recover works consciously or unconsciously neglected on the basis of female authorship. A keyword search of the Library of Congress website for "women writers" recently produced ten thousand English language books published between 1990 and mid-2006-the maximum number that can be displayed on the site. Over a thousand of these were in the highest category of relevance. Even Harold Bloom got into the women writers act, however warily, by editing a series of books, "Women Writers of English and Their Works." Among the exciting archival recoveries of texts offered in this volume are Julia Briggs's painstakingly annotated version of "Paris" by Hope Mirrlees (chapter 8), Suzette Henke's transcription from the holograph of Virginia Woolf's "The Prime Minister" (chapter 15), and Sonita Sarker's extracts from Cornelia Sorabji's diaries. Many more women writers have joined those who appeared in the original Gender of Modernism. The list continues to grow across race, class, and national boundaries.
Scholarly studies of literary periods and of racial, ethnic, national, or regional groupings have partially restored women to various literary cultures, illuminating dynamics of gender through history and geography. Christanne Miller offers a new grouping in her recent Cultures of Modernism: Marianne Moore, Mina Loy, and Else Lasker-Schüler: Gender and Literary Community in New York and Berlin. Several of our chapters reveal collaborative cultures of modernist production. Kate Kelly discovers a communal form of creation in a woman-centered theatre (chapter 18), and in the London Film Society Leslie Hankins finds women entering conversations on cinema, despite a lack of Oxford credentials, and going from there into the management of periodicals (chapter 21).
Under-represented genres, some endemic to activist movements and mass markets, have been recognized and analyzed in relation to gender. Numerous examples emerge in the present volume. Janet Lyon argues for the importance of manifestoes as "the signal genre of modernity's crises"-including anxieties over the "inconsistencies of western modernity's institutions of representation and ... a perceived concomitant decline in cultural coherence" (chapter 2). Suzanne Clark finds that "women's sentimental rhetoric" fueled "the great progressive movements of the nineteenth century" including abolition, women's rights, Indian rights, public education, anti-drink, immigrant socialization, and urban welfare (chapter 4). Nancy Berke's recovery of American women poets on the left (chapter 3) underlines the importance of crossing class in modernist study. Specialized genres also emerge with Jayne Marek's female editors (chapter 7), and the "gendered perspectives within modernist art history" detected by Diane Gillespie (chapter 20).
Movement across disciplinary boundaries is now an expectation for modernist studies. In assembling two outstanding modernist collections, Lisa Rado felt impelled to seek interdisciplinary perspectives for "a period in which science, art, psychology, technology, sociology, anthropology, and philosophy were simultaneously undergoing a period of revolutionary change" (Modernism, Gender, and Culture 8). In the present volume, Virginia Woolf, H. D., and Dorothy Richardson become models of interdisciplinary practice-all of them discussing "the role of visual emotion in cinema, the mystic or fantastic visionary potential of cinema, and the connections between cinematic and spatial languages and the psyche" (chapter 21). Many of the contributors to Gender in Modernism: New Geographies, Complex Intersections have previously restructured modernism to be inclusive of new categories and crossings of disciplines, and that work continues in their chapters here. Crossing over into the visual arts has probably been the most apparent interdisciplinary move. This is encouraged by the seasoned, nuanced feminist theory of the gaze, as well as the emergence of visual studies in the turn toward investigations of modernity. The focus on the visual is seen in the illustrations for this volume, and it is richly played out in the final part, "Arts and Performances."
In 1990, I observed, "Gender is not a mask for feminist or woman, though they are inextricable from it. Both men and women participate in the social and cultural systems of gender, but women write about it more, perhaps because gender is more imposed upon them, more disqualifying, or more intriguing and stimulating to their creativity" (The Gender of Modernism 3). Gender itself may have become so intriguing that it now provides an essential lens for viewing male writing and experience. We find the gendered turn toward male modernists in texts like Hazel Carby's Race Men, and in Modernism, Inc.: Body, Memory, Capital, edited by Jani Scandura and Michael Thurston, which studies many more men than women through the lens of gender. While The Gender of Modernism had five male writers, the present volume includes the work of nearly thirty men, many working cooperatively with women. The rising interest in versions of masculinity holds the promise of more complex models of gender, where various experiences play against one another. However, there remains the specter of male co-option, or reinforcement of contentious lines of opposition.
How useful does the category of gender remain? In Mappings: Feminism and the Cultural Geographies of Encounter, Susan S. Friedman devotes much of her first chapter to going "'beyond' gender." She dates and pretty much limits gender to 1980s-era gynocriticism and gynesis ("French feminist" language-centered, post-structuralist readings of gender). Friedman suggests that a new set of "discourses of identity" or subject positions have undermined the privileging these practices gave to gender. She concedes that gender can play a part in later, more complex gynocriticisms involving multiple identities, and in what she sees as an evolved form of gynesis-performance studies. But she does not explore gender in all of the new geographies she proposes. Nor does she consider feminisms not encompassed by Showalter's now dated gyno-binary: for example, the ever-untidy wedding of feminism to Marxism, or recent developments in psychoanalysis such as trauma theory (see Suzette Henke's excellent explanations, chapter 15). At the end of her discussion of gender, Friedman does concede the existence of an enduring politics of gender that still demands everyday feminist effort. Having broken through the great divide of high vs. low modernism, as defined by Andreas Huyssen, modernists are obliged to attend more than ever to everyday life, remaining amid, and not "beyond" gender, in an active and affirmative political life. Modernism, as we now understand it, provides neglected models of just such activity.
Another recent renunciation of gender comes from Mary Poovey, when she chooses "no longer to attend to women writers or even to the 'ideological work of gender'" (Homans 453). Margaret Homans challenged her on this in an exchange titled "Positions: Recovery Redux." Homans adopts Poovey's own method, whereby she superimposes a first reading for "connotations in which the first text was written" upon subsequent "(mis)readings, including the different interests held in the present" (qtd. in Homans 458). She argues for the integration of gender "into any historical analysis from the start" (452), and remarks on the opportunities for enriched contexts and alternative canons afforded by online resources such as the Brown Women Writer's Project.
I like to call attention to a long, nonlinear history of gender, rather than leave it somewhere behind in the 1980s. There is evidence that gender works recurrently, as needed, in cultural studies. Toril Moi notes that "modern feminist theory was born at a time when sexist ideology often grounded its claims about the subordination of women on appeals to the sciences of the body, particularly biology" (14) and that "historically [...] gender emerged as an attempt to give to biology what belongs to biology, no more and no less" (15). While gender studies recently provided a pathway into the academy for racial, queer, and postcolonial studies, gender and other social discourses were quite generally traded off with one another in the early twentieth century. Cassandra Laity has suggested that turn-of-the-century decadents such as Swinburne and Wilde provided female modernists with the transgressive models denied in the masculinist ideology of the male makers of modernism.
Civil rights activism arose in the United States ahead of feminism in the 1950s. Kate Millett's Sexual Politics serves for Tuzyline Allan as a "paradigmatic shift in American intellectual life from civil rights to women's rights" appearing as it did "at a time when black and white women activists" had become "alienated by the male-dominated center of the civil rights movement and the increasingly sexist tone of its revolutionary branch" (1). Like many feminists now writing on modernism, including Friedman, Allan accompanies modernist with postcolonial women authors. This juxtaposition furthers discussion of the formal and cultural concerns of gendered modernism, while retaining meaningful temporal and cultural distinctions.
With chapter 12 of this volume, Allan focuses freshly on gender expressions in African modernity. We find women writers' options shaped by conventions of gender in African communities, and by their more famous male counterparts; American pan-Africanists and global commerce and conflict offer more general influences. These patterns lend themselves well to current theorizing of transnational feminism, including its capitalist critique and its traversals of national boundaries. Following in chapter 13, Sonita Sarker finds gender, colonialism, and modernism inextricable: "Modernism-the face of modernity at the turn of the twentieth century-and late colonialism-the political infrastructure of modernism that provides material resources as well as particular forms of the racialized, sexualized and gendered 'other.'" It is not surprising, then, that for chapter 14, "War, Modernisms, and the Feminized 'Other,'" Claire Tylee enlists Irish and Indian writers.
Rachel Blau DuPlessis argues for the synchronous continuation of various feminist approaches, including questions of gender. Her Genders, Races, and Religious Cultures in Modern American Poetry, 1908-1934 moves to a model of "exploring diversity within modernism by encouraging feminist reception and gender-oriented analyses of all producers." She does not want to "'gender' modernism, without 'sexing' it, 'racializing' it, 'Semiticizing' it, 'classing' it" (4-6). Her inclusion of anti-Semitism acknowledges the importance of fascism, as applied to racism and ethnic cleansing in the modernist period. The turn toward racializing modernism became remarkable around 1994, with the publication of works such as Michael North's The Dialect of Modernism and Laura Doyle's Bordering on the Body. Attention to anti-Semitism, fascism, and antifascism has also complicated questions of gender. One result of asking racial and ethnic questions within gender studies is that we increasingly see cross-racial connections and discussions. This pattern is reflected in the presence of writers of color and marginal ethnicity throughout this anthology, instead of isolated into chapters of their own (see, for example, chapter 1, "Suffrage"; chapter 4, "Sentimental Modernism"; chapter 7, "Women Editors"; and chapter 10, "Queer Conjunctions"). Anthologized are essays that both analyze and denounce racism (W. E. B. Du Bois) and founding documents that exhibit it (F. T. Marinetti). It remains extremely important to acknowledge ways that modernists used race to articulate issues of gender, at the expense of addressing issues of race or empire.
The debates among feminist approaches to gender over the years have been lively and useful. Gynocritical gender studies had already experienced strains with gynesis by the late 1970s. In 1981, with the anthology This Bridge Called My Back, Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa set forth the creative and critical thinking of women of color and forced a worthy, though gradual reassessment of Anglo-American feminism. Norma Alarcón registers its challenge to what she sees as feminism's single theme of gender in her essay "The Theoretical Subject(s) of This Bridge Called My Back and Anglo-American Feminism." In her 1989 article "The Race for Theory," Barbara Christian wrote on behalf of dis-empowered authors and academic programs on the fringes, calling for adequate readings of African American women writers and challenging the authority vested in philosophers and French feminists. Part of her objection to the latter hinged on their emphasis on the female body, which threatened to reduce the social construct of gender to essentialist biology (342).
On the other hand, while French feminists made use of the male theorists at the center of post-structuralism, they offered resistance to implausible theory and selected what was worth developing. Thus we see resistance to the Freudian definition of woman premised on her "lack" of a penis, and to the paternal, heterosexual, Oedipal concept of the family. Jacques Lacan's designation of the phallus as the transcendental and authoritative signifier gets set aside in favor of more useful concepts, such as the mirror stage, conceptions of language as discourse, and theories of the gaze. Lacan, Jacques Derrida, and Michel Foucault, though generally blind to issues of gender, have provided post-structuralist feminists with departure points for disrupting gender essentialism, hierarchical and/or binary power structures, and discourses of authority and control. They have set the stage for gender-sensitive developmental theories.
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