This project explores how the modern novel restructures traditional conceptions of the Romantic sublime through complex depictions of parenthood. Using related strategies of representation, William Faulkner, E.M. Forster, D.H. Lawrence, and Virginia Woolf rewrite the traditional sublime as an intersubjective experience, dependent upon the recognition of social objectification and an ethics of reciprocal empathy between mothers and fathers. Ultimately, The Modernist Sublime contributes to modernist scholarship by exploring the dynamics of modernist representations of parenthood and by focusing attention on how modernist authors reconsider the function of the sublime in the modern world. Juxtaposing traditional aesthetics and Slavoj Žižek’s concept of the “sublime object of ideology” with recent theoretical work regarding identity, I argue that these modern novelists construct what I term a “sublime subject” (or a person who functions in the space of the traditional sublime object) in order to reveal the possibility of a sublime experience that favors emotional connection over reason. These novelists critique the objectification of the other in favor of a sublime experience that reveals the subject-shattering power of empathy.
Writing the Body Invisible: Feminism, Fashion, Embodiment, and Public Intellectuals
(Under Contract with Northwestern University Press)
This project explores the writing of female public intellectuals, especially women of color, from the twentieth to the twenty-first century. Examining the complex history between western Feminism and Global Feminisms, I examine the way the dominant narratives of Western Feminism come into conflict with narratives from women situated in the global margins. In particular, I look at female public intellectuals of color who have become visible to both Western culture and feminism through their navigations of the body. In looking at the work of Simone de Beauvoir, Gayatri Spivak, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie as well as female bloggers like Roxanne Gay, a narrative of the body emerges that counters the privilege of male intellectual’s ability to be appreciated only for their mind. Ultimately, I argue that women’s physical embodiment, conditioned through cultural norms of visibility predicated on the corporeal body, must be accounted for in understanding the female public intellectual as navigating the double bind of womanhood and intellectualism. In essence, in order for a woman intellectual’s mind to be seen, her body must always at first be visible, and so, a very different history of intellectualism surfaces when considering a woman’s space in the public sphere.
Chemical Feminism: Women’s Rhetoric in Scientific Writing
This project examines both the scientific and non-scientific writing of women scientists, particularly women chemists, from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Chemical Feminism looks at the ways the writing of these female scientists shows the intersection of gender with their scientific discourse. Specifically, I explore the reciprocal ways the writing of women scientists reflect both their attitudes toward gender and feminism as well as their pedagogical and scientific theories. Focusing on both the autobiographical and scientific writing of Mary Somerville, Alice Hamilton, Ida Freund as well as others, I argue that their pedagogical and scientific writing and their personal writing both show the interplay between science and feminism. Ultimately, these women argue for women’s rights by using the very language of science that was often used to exclude women in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.