New Woman Hybridities: Femininity, Feminism and International Consumer Culture, 1880-1930

New Woman Hybridities: Femininity, Feminism and International Consumer Culture, 1880-1930

New Woman Hybridities: Femininity, Feminism and International Consumer Culture, 1880-1930

New Woman Hybridities: Femininity, Feminism and International Consumer Culture, 1880-1930

Synopsis

New Woman Hybridities explores the diversity of meanings ascribed to the turn-of-the-century New Woman in the context of cultural debates conducted within and across a wide range of national frameworks. Individual chapters by international scholars scrutinize the flow of ideas, images and textual parameters of New Woman discourses in the UK, North America, Europe, and Japan, elucidating the national and ethnic hybridity of the 'modern woman' by locating this figure within both international consumer culture and feminist writing.

Excerpt

'The New Woman' with her short haircut and practical dress, her demand for access to higher education, the vote and the right to earn a decent living, her challenge to accepted views of femininity and female sexuality, this ambiguous figure was the focus of much media debate and of intense anxiety as well as hope in the decades spanning the end of the nineteenth and start of the twentieth century. She was - and still is - the subject both of history and fantasy. At the start of the twenty-first century scholarly interest in the New Woman in the anglophone world has been manifest in a range of recent books and articles. These work across as well as within the disciplines of history, literature, cultural studies and women's studies. The 'advanced' or 'modern' woman has been rescued from the margins of literary and historical study and her importance has been recognized. Indeed, this may seem to be a topic on which it is difficult now to say anything 'new'. However, we believe that this book can make just such a claim. Not only do we seek here to contribute to the growing body of scholarly work on the New Woman but also to offer something genuinely new to the continuing debates on her significance. There are four particular aspects of this collection which extend those debates into new territory. In the first part of this Introduction we set these out in some detail. In subsequent sections we discuss the groupings and specific chapters at greater length.

New women, new hybridities

The first and perhaps most important new aspect of this volume is that it is international not only in the provenance of its contributors but, crucially, in the topics they address. The New Woman has been understood almost exclusively within national boundaries or sometimes, as Angelique Richardson points out, as a 'transatlantic phenomenon' (p. 243). Chapters in this collection situate the New Woman in a much wider geographical and cultural context, dealing as they do with Hungary, Japan, British Columbia, Germany, Ireland and Wales, as well as England and the United States of America. This international dimension not only brings . . .

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