Bodies of Modernism

Physical Disability in Transatlantic Modernist Literature
Maren Tova Linett
Reveals the links, both positive and negative, between disabled bodies and aspects of modernism and modernity through readings of a wide range of literary texts


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Bodies of Modernism brings a new and exciting analytical lens to modernist literature, that of critical disability studies. The book offers new readings of canonical and noncanonical writers from both sides of the Atlantic including Flannery O’Connor, Eudora Welty, H. G. Wells, D. H. Lawrence, Elizabeth Bowen, Henry Green, Olive Moore, Carson McCullers, Tennessee Williams, J. M. Synge, Florence Barclay, Virginia Woolf, and James Joyce. Through readings of this wide range of texts and with chapters focusing on mobility impairments, deafness, blindness, and deformity, the study reveals both modernism’s skepticism about and dependence on fantasies of whole, “normal” bodies.

“A nuanced view of disability as it intertwines with modernist aesthetics. Linett concentrates on disabled protagonists but expands her study from mere character analysis to a thoroughgoing critique and understanding of modernism itself. An important contribution to the field of literary and disability studies.”
— Lennard Davis, University of Illinois at Chicago

“In a wide-ranging, lively, and convincingly argued study of an array of modernist works, Maren Linett shows how various are the attitudes towards disabled bodies but also, paradoxically, how the attitudes towards specific disabilities fall into distinct broad patterns. Anyone interested in modernism will find challenging and valuable new insights on the literature of the period in Linett’s crucial and stunning view of it through the lens of disability studies.”
— Michael Groden, University of Western Ontario

“Linett’s unflinching, sometimes mortifying exposé of writers’ and readers’ misconceptions about blindness, deafness, and locomotive difficulties, together with her intricate analyses of modernist texts, will ensure the resounding impact of this study.”
— Maud Ellmann, University of Chicago

Maren Tova Linett is Associate Professor of English at Purdue University.

Praise / Awards

  • "I was well-rewarded for the time I spent with this book, finding myself entranced and enriched by Linett's careful, detailed unpacking of representations of physical disability and its metaphorical associations across a wide range of modernist literature."
    --Stephanie Kerschbaum, Disability Studies Quarterly
  • "Bodies of Modernism is a wide-ranging, capacious, and meticulously researched study...The result is a rather prodigious contribution to modernist and disability studies."
    --Tammy Berberi, Modernism/Modernity
  • "Alongside the dazzling array of texts and meticulous research, the overarching gift of Bodies of Modernism is the pleasure of dwelling in Linett’s vibrant critical expression…"
    --Journal of the English Association
  • "Its strength lies in its careful close readings of a broad range of texts and genres that enable a much-needed unpacking of the tension between modernism’s anti- and hyper-normative commitments."
    --Journal of Modern Literature
  • "A perceptive and analytically rigorous book that continues an extremely important set of critical conversations surrounding modernism, the physical body, and the form of writing.”
    -- The Year's Work in English Studies

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Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 268pp.
  • 3 Illustrations.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2016
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-07331-3

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  • $94.95 U.S.

  • Paper
  • 2016
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-05331-5

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  • $34.95 U.S.

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