Women, Celebrity, and Literary Culture between the Wars

As mass media burgeoned in the years between the first and second world wars, so did another phenomenon—celebrity. Beginning in Hollywood with the studio-orchestrated transformation of uncredited actors into brand-name stars, celebrity also spread to writers, whose personal appearances and private lives came to fascinate readers as much as their work. Women, Celebrity, and Literary Culture between the Wars profiles seven American, Canadian, and British women writers—Dorothy Parker, Anita Loos, Mae West, L. M. Montgomery, Margaret Kennedy, Stella Gibbons, and E. M. Delafield—who achieved literary celebrity in the 1920s and 1930s and whose work remains popular even today.

Faye Hammill investigates how the fame and commercial success of these writers—as well as their gender—affected the literary reception of their work. She explores how women writers sought to fashion their own celebrity images through various kinds of public performance and how the media appropriated these writers for particular cultural discourses. She also reassesses the relationship between celebrity culture and literary culture, demonstrating how the commercial success of these writers caused literary elites to denigrate their writing as "middlebrow," despite the fact that their work often challenged middle-class ideals of marriage, home, and family and complicated class categories and lines of social discrimination.

The first comparative study of North American and British literary celebrity, Women, Celebrity, and Literary Culture between the Wars offers a nuanced appreciation of the middlebrow in relation to modernism and popular culture.


Global Appetites

Global Appetites explores how industrial agriculture and countercultural food movements underpin U.S. conceptions of global power in the century since the First World War. Allison Carruth’s study centers on what she terms the “literature of food” – a body of work that comprises literary realism, late modernism, and magical realism along with culinary writing, food memoir, and advertising. Through analysis of American texts ranging from Willa Cather’s novel O Pioneers! (1913) to Novella Carpenter’s nonfiction work Farm City (2009), Carruth argues that stories about how the United States cultivates, distributes, and consumes food imbue it with the power to transform social and ecological systems around the world. Lively and accessible, this interdisciplinary study will appeal to scholars of American literature and culture as well as those working in the fields of food studies, food policy, agriculture history, social justice, and the environmental humanities.


Caroline Cooney

Cooney’s large body of work for adolescents defies easy classification. She has written award-winning adventure, suspense, romance, family, mystery, and historical fiction, as well as action-driven horror stories and a time-travel trilogy. Her purpose in some books, most notably horror like The Perfume, is just to encourage reluctant readers to enjoy literature. However, in her most serious and artistic books, Cooney relies on a source that is likely to surprise her readers: biblical stories and parables. For example, readers can find the seed of the idea that eventually became Whatever Happened to Janie in the story of King Solomon’s wisdom when he was asked to decide which of two women, both of whom claimed to be mother of an infant, should be recognized as the true mother. The parable of the Good Samaritan provides a backdrop in several of Cooney’s most successful novels. Cooney’s understated use of biblical stories, and the way her Christian faith subtly informs her fiction, are explored in the book. The organization of the text reflects Cooney’s major fiction categories: the “Janie” mysteries, romances, catastrophe novels, horror and suspense novels, the time travel trilogy, and her historical fiction. Representative books are discussed in detail within each chapter. Although most of the text is devoted to critical analysis of her literary work, and of the intersection of fiction and faith in her novels, Cooney’s biography is also presented within the frame of her life as a single mother of grown children. The influences of her talents as an organist who played regularly for her church, the lessons she has learned from her children when they were teenagers, and life experiences that have led her to consider issues of race and gender, are examples of issues that are discussed. For children’s and YA libraries and students of children’s literature.


Who’s who in Contemporary Women’s Writing

Unique in its breadth of coverage, Who’s Who in Contemporary Women’s Writing is a comprehensive, authoritative and enjoyable guide to women’s fiction, prose, poetry and drama from around the world in the second half of the twentieth century. Over the course of 1000 entries by over 150 international contributors, a picture emerges of the incredible range of women’s writing in our time, from Toni Morrison to Fleur Adcock- all are here. This book includes the established and well-loved but also opens up new worlds of modern literature which may be unfamiliar but are never less than fascinating.


Women’s Ghost Literature in Nineteenth-Century Britain

Nineteenth-century ghost literature by women shows the Gothic becoming more experimental and subversive as its writers abandoned the stereotypical Gothic heroines of the past in order to create more realistic, middle-class characters (both living and dead, male and female) who rage against the limits imposed on them by the natural world. The ghosts of Female Gothic thereby become reflections of the social, sexual, economic and racial troubles of the living. Expanding the parameters of Female Gothic and moving it into the nineteenth and twentieth centuries allows us to recognise women’s ghost literature as a specific strain of the Female Gothic that began not with Ann Radcliffe, but with the Romantic Gothic ballads of women in the first decade of the nineteenth century.