Since the 1970s, the literary and cultural politics of the turn-of-the-century New Woman have received increasing academic attention. Whether she is seen as the emblem of sexual anarchy, an agent of mediation between mass market and modernist cultures, or as a symptom of the consolidation of nineteenth and early twentieth-century political liberation movements, the New Woman represents a site of cultural and socio-political contestation and acts as a marker of modernity. This book explores the diversity of meanings ascribed to the New Woman in the context of cultural debates conducted within and across a wide range of national frameworks including the UK, Canada, North America, Europe, and Japan. The key concept of 'hybridities' is used to elucidate the national and ethnic multiplicity of the 'modern woman' as well as to locate this figure both within international consumer culture and within feminist writing. The book is structured around four key themes. 'Hybridities' examines the instabilities of New Woman identities and discourses in relation to both national/ethnic contexts and the textual parameters of New Woman writings.
'Through the (Periodical) Looking Glass' is concerned with the periodical press and its production and circulation of New Woman images. 'Feminist Counter Cultures?' interrogates feminist efforts to influence and shape this process by mimicking or subverting dominant models of representation and by establishing alternative spaces for the articulation of New Woman subjectivities. 'Race and the New Woman' inspects white New Women's investment in hegemonic racial discourses, looking at the way in which black and non-Western women inserted liberationist discourses into the New Woman debate. This book will be essential reading for advanced students and researchers of American Studies, Women's Studies and Women's History.
Ann Heilmann is a Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Wales, Swansea. She is the author of New Woman Fiction (2000) and the editor of Feminist Forerunners: New Womanism and Feminism in the Early Twentieth Century (2003). Margaret Beetham is reader in the Department of English at Manchester Metropolitan University. She is the author of A Magazine of Her Own: Domesticity and Desire in the Woman's Magazine1800-1914 (1996) and editor (with Kay Boardman) of Victorian Women's Magazine: An Anthology (2001). Her research interests are in histories of popular print and of the domestic and in the feminist theory and pedagogy.