SAMPLE READING LIST: Modernist Women Writers


This field will focus on experimental and avant-garde work of women writers from 1900 to 1940. Definitions of community (such as Stein's and Barney's salons, versus those Wharton frequented) and identity (sexual, national, etc.) will be addressed, particularly as manifested through stylistic analysis. For instance, why did many of the women of Barney's separatist lesbian salon evenings work in relatively "traditional" forms of male writers—and in many cases adopt the male scripted tropes of sexuality, including lesbianism—while Stein produced arguably the most radically innovative work of this period? In the case of Loy and Carrington, how did they both become part of overwhelmingly male avant-garde movements, and how did they distance themselves from the work of their male partners (Marinetti and Cravan, and Ernst, respectively)?

Some of these works (Hall, Rachilde, Vivien and Barnes) will be read as conscious responses to medical ( Freud, Krafft Ebing, Ellis) and popular writings ( Baudelaire, Gautier, Louys and sensationalist "decadents") on women's sexuality, as well as literary responses to male Modernists and avant-garde writers (e.g. Colette's Pure and the Impure is a direct response to Proust's portraits of "Sodom and Gomorrah"). I am particularly interested in how women's sexuality is constructed in these texts, how it is negotiated through a series of concessions, appropriations, and parodies of male- authored texts on women's sexuality.


Barnes, Djuna
— Ladies Almanac
— Nightwood 1936
Benstock, Shari
— Women of the Left Bank 1986
Carrington, Leonora
— Down Below 1939
— "The Debutante" 1937-8
Cixous, Helene
— "Laugh of the Medusa"
— The Pure and the Impure 1941
— My Apprenticeships and Music Hall Sidelights 1913/36
Ellis, Havelock
— Studies in the Psychology of Sex 1898
Flanner, Janet
Paris Was Yesterday: 1925-1939
Freud, Sigmund
— "A Case of Homosexuality in a Woman"
— Dora
— "Female Sexuality"
— "Fetishism"
— "Medusa's Head"
— Studies in Hysteria
— Three Essays on Sexuality
Hall, Radclyffe
— Well of Loneliness 1928
H. D.
— Trilogy
— Tribute to Freud
— Psychopathia Sexualis 1886
Loy, Mina
— Lunar Baedeker & Time Tables
— "Aphorisms on Futurism" & Modernism
— "Feminist Manifesto" 1914
— Insel
— "The Sacred Prostitute" 1914 (unpublished, at Yale)
— "Lion's Jaws" 1920
Nin, Anais
— Diaries Vol 1 & 2 1934-42
— Incest
— La Jongleuse 1900
— La Marquise de Sade 1887
— Monsieur Venus 1884
Rhys, Jean
— Voyage in the Dark 1934
— Good Morning, Midnight 1939
— Quartet
Stein, Gertrude
— Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas
— Making of Americans 1905
— "Melanctha" (Three Lives) 1909
— Everybody's Autobiography
Suleiman, Susan Rubin
— Subversive Intent: Gender, Politics and the Avant-Garde
Vivien, Renee
— Woman of the Wolf
— A Woman Appeared to Me 1904
Wharton, Edith
— A Backward Glance