Making Love Modern: The Intimate Public Worlds of New York's Literary Women

Overview

In the teens and twenties, New York was home to a rich variety of literary subcultures. Within these intermingled worlds, gender lines and other boundaries were crossed in ways hardly imaginable in previous decades. Among the bohemians of Greenwich Village, the sophisticates of the Algonquin Round Table and the literati of the Harlem Renaissance, certain women found fresh powerful voices through which to speak and write. Edna and Vincent Millay and Dorothy Parker are now best remembered for their colorful lives; ...
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Overview

In the teens and twenties, New York was home to a rich variety of literary subcultures. Within these intermingled worlds, gender lines and other boundaries were crossed in ways hardly imaginable in previous decades. Among the bohemians of Greenwich Village, the sophisticates of the Algonquin Round Table and the literati of the Harlem Renaissance, certain women found fresh powerful voices through which to speak and write. Edna and Vincent Millay and Dorothy Parker are now best remembered for their colorful lives; Genevieve Taggard, Gwendolyn Bennett and Helene Johnson are hardly remembered at all. Yet each made a serious Literary contribution to the meaning of modern femininity, relationship, and self-hood.Making Love Modern uncovers the deep historical sensitivity and interest of women's love poetry. Placing their work in the context of structures nested within national culture, Nina Miller explores the tensions that Take this literature so rewarding for contemporary readers.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A scholarly work unique in the study of modernist New York, women's love poetry, and the role of women in modernism."--Library Journal

"A remarkable achievement in cultural analysis of one of this century's most fascinating decades....Highly recommended for academic collections supporting work at the upper-level undergraduate level and above and for general and professional collections."--Choice

"A splendid book....It will be of great value to scholars who work in fields such as gender studies, American culture, and twentieth-century poetry; additionally, it is so lucid and readable that students and perhaps general readers will also appreciate it. Its clarity and intellectual precision are particularly impressive. What I have read has changed the way in which I think about modernist women's love poetry, and I am sure that I will not be alone in this response."--Suzanne Juhasz, University of Colorado at Boulder

"Admirably and audaciously argued, Making Love Modern participates in the historical revisionist project of Modernism in general and the Harlem Renaissance in particular, one that lifts genre criticism to a new level of meaning and complexity in its potential to address issues of gender, class, race, and nation in the spheres of private and public subcultural discourse."--Mae Henderson, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

"Making Love Modern is a fascinating and invaluable contribution to twentieth century U.S. literary history, reshaping powerfully the domains of modernism and women's literature. It narrates with intricate beauty the development of the ideal and the ideology of modern love, in literature and in general. Miller's intellectual patience, energy, and rigor are everywhere evident."--Laurent Berlant, University of Chicago

Library Journal
In this feminist study, Miller explores the lives and love poetry of modernist women writers in the literary subcultures of New York in the late 1910s and 1920s. The study is grounded in an analysis of cultural dynamics, subcultures, and women's literary strategies and practices. Miller begins with an examination of bohemia and Free Love in Greenwich Village as background and context for a literary examination of Edna St. Vincent Millay and Genevieve Taggard. This is followed by an exploration of the sophistication and publicity surrounding the Algonquin Round Table, which provides context for a study of Dorothy Parker. The last three chapters focus on the Harlem Renaissance, the role of journals, the arts and artists, black womanhood, and Gwendolyn Bennett and Helene Johnson. Miller (English, Iowa State Univ.) contributes a scholarly work unique in the study of modernist New York, women's love poetry, and the role of women in modernism.--Jeris Cassel, Rutgers Univ. Libs., New Brunswick, NJ
Catherine Louis
A hybrid of cultural and literary studies....[U]ltimately she makes the idiosyncratic tensions of each subculture come alive. In particular, her discussion of the conflicted position of bourgeois black women writers...is insightful.
The New York Times Book Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195116052
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 1/28/1999
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Nina Miller, Associate Professor of English, teaches American literature, African American literature, and Women's Studies at Iowa State University. She is currently at work on a book about the lost history of Anarchism in US education.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 3
1 Edna St. Vincent Millay 15
2 Love in Greenwich Village: Genevieve Taggard and the Bohemian Ideal 41
3 Aestheticized Love and Sexual Violence 63
4 The Algonquin Round Table and the Politics of Sophistication 87
5 "Oh, do sit down, I've got so much to tell you!": Dorothy Parker and Her Intimate Public 119
6 "The New (and Newer) Negro(es)": Generational Conflict in the Harlem Renaissance 143
7 "Exalting Negro Womanhood": Performance and Cultural Responsibility for the Middle-Class Heroine 181
8 "Our Younger Negro (Women) Artists": Gwendolyn Bennett and Helene Johnson 209
Afterword 243
Notes 247
Bibliography 275
Index 285
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