Women and Modernism

December 14, 2007

About Gynomod

Filed under: — mscanlon @ 12:14 pm

Numerous critics have rightly suggested that our very definition of literary Modernism may be (unconsciously?) gendered masculine, that our descriptions of Modernist aesthetics and trends are based too rigidly on readings of the High (Male) Modernists and tend to marginalize modernist experiences and literatures of women and people of color.  Indeed, some argue that the aesthetics and politics we have too reductively called Modernism actually form themselves against the perceived threats of women or an amorphous “feminine” or racialized Other.  In this course, ENGL 376JJ: Women and Modernism, we grapple with the critical questions of the study of gender and Modernism and immerse ourselves in the literary and theoretical writings of a diverse group of women writing in the early Twentieth Century.

Our task might be articulated broadly by Rita Felski’s questions: “How would our understanding of modernity change if instead of taking male experience as paradigmatic, we were to look instead at texts written primarily by or about women?  And what if feminine phenomena, often seen as having a secondary or marginal status, were given a central importance in the analysis of the culture of modernity?”

Additionally, on this website we will attempt to reenvision our academic practices.  To echo Felski, how would our understanding of a college course change if, instead of taking individual performance and competitive practice as paradigmatic, we were to conceive of our learning instead primarily collaboratively?  And what if collaborative knowledge-building, often seen as having secondary or marginal status, were given a central role in our study of the literary works of modernist women?  We must think of this site as a vital piece of that collaborative practice, a fluid record of our accumulating knowledge and a place for the active exchange of ideas.  Come on in.

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