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    The epistolary I: Dorothy Richardson's correspondence and the paper trails of modernism

    Shanks, Leonie (2019) The epistolary I: Dorothy Richardson's correspondence and the paper trails of modernism. Doctoral thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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    Abstract

    Modernist letters have received little scholarly scrutiny, in spite of the enthusiasm that many modernist authors exhibited for the epistolary form. By providing a feminist account of identity formation and relationship construction in the published and archived correspondence of Dorothy Richardson, author of the long modernist bildungsroman Pilgrimage (1915–1938/67), this thesis argues that epistolary correspondence deserves greater prominence in gendered mappings of modernist cultural production. Richardson’s performative and entertaining letters are used to highlight the value of reading correspondence as a medium of life-writing in which relational identities and creative modes of expression are constructed, as well as to revitalise the recuperative project begun by feminist scholars such as Bonnie Kime Scott to expose the power structures underpinning literary production. By analysing the ways in which Richardson’s correspondence mediates her relationships across time, space and distance with a diverse range of writers, readers, friends and scholars, including Henry James, the writer and cultural sponsor Bryher, and the American regionalist writer Ruth Suckow, I uncover and examine alternative, unexpected configurations of cultural relationships that are complexly inflected by gender, age, sexuality, nationality and locality. Drawing on Bruno Latour’s actor-network-theory and Tim Ingold’s concept of the ‘meshwork’ to both utilise and improve upon the ‘network’ metaphor commonly employed to conceptualise the field of cultural production, each chapter proceeds to map Richardson’s correspondence as a distinct ‘paper trail’ that includes not only her interpersonal connections, but also the material, political and geographical constituents of her lifeworld. Reading Richardson’s letters through the lens of feminist auto/biographical theory (Chapter 1); psychoanalysis and material culture (Chapter 2); postcolonial criticism (Chapter 3); cultural theories of globalisation (Chapter 4), and feminist anecdotal and archival theory (Chapter 5), a new cultural landscape is drawn that places epistolary correspondence at the centre, not the periphery, of both modernist practice and modernist scholarship.

    Metadata

    Item Type: Thesis
    Additional Information: This thesis is not currently available for public use. Date of PhD award confirmed as 2019 by registry
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 26 Nov 2019 14:56
    Last Modified: 30 Jun 2021 07:41
    URI: https://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/40448

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