Making It Really New: Hilda Doolittle,
Gwendolyn Brooks, and the Feminist Potential
of Modern Poetry

Newness was the central concept of modernism. In their legendary attempts to "make it new," modern Anglo-American poets, like modern novelists and visual artists in general, wanted to challenge every aesthetic complacency and cultural institution they could identify. They broke spatial wholeness into Cubist fragments, they disrupted temporal sequence, and they tried to integrate the status of subject with that of object. For all its innovations, literary modernism was deeply conservative in one important respect: It failed to question male entitlement and white supremacy. Rather than challenge Eurocentric and androcentric values, the high modernism of Pound, Eliot, Joyce, and Williams left these values securely in place.

The masculinist bias of modernism becomes evident when gender is used as a category of analysis. Until recently, accounts of modernism ignored questions of gender, though the Woman Question and women's suffrage were known contemporary issues and though feminists like Gertrude Stein and Virginia Woolf helped to create modernism in Anglo-American literature. Now that women have become visible, it is clearer that modernism is not neutral but gendered. On the one hand, according to Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar, the "determinedly anti-commercial cast" of the highbrow innovations for which modernism is known functioned as a kind of white

From American Quarterly 42, no. 3 ( September 1990). © 1990 The American Studies Association.


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Gwendolyn Brooks


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 216

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?