Whose Gertrude Stein? Contemporary Poetry, Modernist Institutions and Stein’s Troublesome Legacy
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This thesis is an examination of the ways in which, in what Bourdieu theorises as the ‘space of literary or artistic position-takings’, Gertrude Stein has been continually positioned and repositioned, constructed and reconstructed: by writers in her own period, in modernism scholarship, and, particularly, by writers staking their claim as the literary avant-garde of the late 20th and early 21st Centuries.1 Since her recuperation by the Language Poets in the 1970s, and in the literary histories proposed by Marjorie Perloff and others, Stein has been positioned as the originator of an alternative avant-garde genealogy which has resisted the ‘institutionalised’ modernism of the New Critics. This legacy continues to the present day in claims by writers like Kenneth Goldsmith that she is a precursor for Conceptual Writing. Because they are predicated on Stein’s resistance to the institution of modernism, and hinge on her removal from its history, none of these arguments discuss in any detail Stein’s relationship to the historical movement which is the immediate context for her work - to the institution of modernism itself or to the institutions with which it engages. My thesis challenges the removal of Stein from her milieu by showing how her textual production must be read alongside her activity on her contemporary scene and her representation of and by other modernists. In the thesis, I re-read Stein’s work as a series of explicit interventions in the institutions which form the context of the cultural production of the early 20th Century. In doing so, I consider the motivations for the reconstructions and repositionings of Stein, tracing the historiography of her presentation as an exceptional figure dislocated from her context.
AuthorsParkinson, Isabelle Lucy
- Theses