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‘I’ll Gobble You Up’: Gender and Consumption in T. S. Eliot’s poetry

2 October 2020

Zoë Miller, University of Manchester

Content Warning: Sexual Violence, Femicide, Cannibalism

Food features prominently in T.S. Eliot’s poetry: the typist lays out her ‘food in tins’[1]; Fresca ‘caress[es]’ an ‘egg’s well-rounded dome’[2]; and Sweeney wants to ‘gobble up’ his female companion in a ‘stew’.[3]On closer inspection, however, these images of food appear to be more images of consumption, whether of convenience food, indulgent breakfast-in-bed, or, perversely, other people. As Jeff Wallace explains, the early twentieth century saw a significant shift from ‘production to consumption’, with a growing commodity culture fanned by advertising that encouraged consumerist desires.[4]I suggest that images of consumption in Eliot’s poetry reflect this burgeoning consumerism and explore the thorny interstices between food, culture, and sex. Continue reading “‘I’ll Gobble You Up’: Gender and Consumption in T. S. Eliot’s poetry”

Book Review: Modern Sentimentalism

1st September 2020

Jun Qiang, University of York

Lisa Mendelman, Modern Sentimentalism: Affect, Irony, and Female Authorship in Interwar America (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019) 

Sentimentalism has always been considered the antithesis of modern womanhood. Observing that American female novelists reconfigured sentimentalism in the modernist period, Lisa Mendelman offers a new understanding of this literary mode by defining it as ‘an evolving mode that transforms along with its cultural moment’ (p. 9). Mendelman, departing from a long tradition of sentimental fiction criticism in which cultural dynamics are obsessed over and artistic qualities are ignored, examines the aesthetic transformations and irony of the sentimental mode. Her book synthesises the sentimentalist subfield of modernist studies with affect studies, an emerging and thriving field. Its hybrid approach of integrating historical and theoretical inquiry, as well as reexamining the relationship between emotion and aesthetics, will be valuable to future scholars in affect studies.

Continue reading “Book Review: Modern Sentimentalism”

Gender and Sexuality in Djuna Barnes’ Nightwood

Kirsty Hewitt, University of Glasgow

Djuna Barnes’ Nightwood (1936) presents fascinating portrayals of inversion and same-sex desire, veering away from traditional heterosexual relationships and expected societal heteronormativity. Barnes turned to the new form of modernism to better show the displacement of her unusual, sexually fluid characters, and to have a greater freedom in expressing identities which deviated from the norm.[1] Any woman who did try to exercise her sexuality, be it heterosexual or otherwise, was up against societal obstacles. As the world moved into the twentieth century, women came to finally be recognised from a political stance, but wider society was still compartmentalised into a male-dominated hierarchy.[2] The ability to place oneself into the categories of male and female was also changing; the movement of sexology had defined ‘inversion’, and many different sexualities had been created, along with a wealth of fetishisms.[3] Reading from a modern-day perspective, one will almost inevitably take into account recent transgender and ‘queer’ theories, the ideas of which, at the time of Barnes’ writing, were groundbreaking.

Continue reading “Gender and Sexuality in Djuna Barnes’ Nightwood”

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