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Threshold Modernism
New Public Women and the Literary Spaces of Imperial London


  • Date Published: December 2018
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108479813

£ 75.00

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About the Authors
  • Threshold Modernism reveals how changing ideas about gender and race in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Britain shaped - and were shaped by - London and its literature. Chapters address key sites, especially department stores, women's clubs, and city streets, that coevolved with controversial types of modern women. Interweaving cultural history, narrative theory, close reading, and spatial analysis, Threshold Modernism considers canonical figures such as George Gissing, Henry James, Dorothy Richardson, H. G. Wells, and Virginia Woolf alongside understudied British and colonial writers including Amy Levy, B. M. Malabari, A. B. C. Merriman-Labor, Duse Mohamed Ali, and Una Marson. Evans argues that these diverse authors employed the 'new public women' and their associated spaces to grapple with widespread cultural change and reflect on the struggle to describe new subjects, experiences, and ways of seeing in appropriately novel ways. For colonial writers of color, those women and spaces provided a means through which to claim their own places in imperial London.

    • Proposes a new way to understand the relationship between modernity and modernism
    • Examines diverse primary texts, including high modernist and popular fiction, journalism and advertisements, unpublished playscripts, travelogues and London guides
    • Demonstrates how mapping the real locations of a fictional text can produce new insights
    • Brings to light little-known works by colonial authors of color
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'The book's arguments are clear and forceful. The recovery of reverse imperial ethnography adds historical depth to treatments of race in London that too often begin with materials published after the Second World War. The book will be of interest to a wide variety of readers, from academic specialists in modernism, British literature, women's literature, and postcolonial literature and to advanced students in courses on British modernism, literature and the city, and women's writing.' Michael Thurston, Smith College, Massachusetts

    'This is a well-conceived and deftly executed analysis of women's changing position in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century London, as represented in a wide range of literary texts. It offers useful new methodologies for literary study, drawing particularly on new scholarly approaches in feminist geography and digital humanities, and is fresh and original in its insights.' Lise Sanders, Hampshire College, Massachusetts

    'Everyone loves a book with maps. Evans has mapped out sites of narrative significance in Henry James' The Princess Casamassima, Amy Levy's The Romance of a Shop, George Gissing's The Odd Women, H. G. Wells' Ann Veronica and Virginia Woolf's Night and Day.' Rebecca Bowler, Times Higher Education

    'Evans contributes to the ongoing debate on the nature and definition, and quantity of modernisms, revealing 'overlooked commonalities' even between H. G. Wells and Virginia Woolf. In advancing her arguments, Evans employs maps, spatial theory and work from understudied colonial writers of colour who gazed with outsiders' eyes on the teeming imperial metropolis; and she asks us to re-examine literary scholarship with fresh eyes, too.' The Times Literary Supplement

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    Product details

    • Date Published: December 2018
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108479813
    • dimensions: 235 x 157 x 17 mm
    • weight: 0.58kg
    • contains: 11 b/w illus.
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: London, 1880–1940: Liminal Sites and Contested Identities
    1. Modern sites for modern types: locating the new public woman
    2. Shops and shop girls: the modern shop, 'counter-jumpers', and the shopgirl's narrative evolution
    3. Streets and the woman walker: when 'street love' meets Flânerie
    4. Women's clubs and clubwomen: 'neutral territory', feminist heterotopia, and failed 'diplomacy'
    5. New public women through colonial eyes: reverse imperial ethnography

  • Author

    Elizabeth F. Evans, University of Notre Dame, Indiana
    Elizabeth F. Evans teaches in the Department of English and the Program in Gender Studies at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana. She specializes in British and Anglophone literature of the long twentieth century, with particular attention to modernism. She is the coeditor of Woolf and the City (2010) and has published in Modern Fiction Studies, Literature Compass, and Cultural Analytics and in edited collections on Amy Levy, George Gissing, and Virginia Woolf.

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