front cover of Single Lives
Single Lives
Modern Women in Literature, Culture, and Film
Katherine Fama
Rutgers University Press, 2022
Single Lives is a collection of singleness studies essays from the interdisciplinary humanities that explores the last two hundred years of literature and popular media by, about, and for single women in the US and the UK. Independent women have always been a center around which social anxieties and excitement coalesced. Moving between the family home and domestic independence, between household and public labor, and between celibacy and a range of sexual relations, the single woman remains a literary and cultural focus, as she has been from the 19th to the 21st centuries. This collection offers readers the opportunity to uncover the social, political, economic, and cultural connections between the "singly blessed" women and "bachelor girls" of the 19th and early 20th century and "all the single ladies" of the 21st century. Essays read singleness across genre and field, offering new approaches to studying modern and contemporary single women in literature, film, and history. Authors engage scholarship from wide ranging fields of social history, women's studies, queer theory, and Black feminism. The collection reads familiar texts against the grain, rethinking archival resources, revisiting familiar figures, and exploring new sources: cookbooks, ephemera, personal documents, recovered film histories, and forms of domestic space and labor.This is a book for scholars of gender and sexuality, social history, feminist film and media scholars, and literary historians, and reflects the urgent contemporary interest in single women as a political, economic, and cultural force. 

front cover of Style and the Single Girl
Style and the Single Girl
How Modern Women Re-Dressed the Novel, 1922–1977
Hope Howell Hodgkins
The Ohio State University Press, 2016
Style and the Single Girl by Hope Howell Hodgkins reveals how four very different single-girl novelists employed modern modes to re-dress the traditional English marriage plot. In the first monograph to use fashion theory and history to trace the literary progress of British women in later modernity, Hodgkins argues that correspondences between a gendered sartorial style and a gendered literary style persisted throughout the modern era. She demonstrates how those correspondences did not fade but became fraught as women matured in the sharply gendered crucible of war.
Hodgkins delineates how in the 1920s and 1930s, popular novels by Dorothy Sayers and high-art fiction by Jean Rhys used dress to comment wittily and bitterly on gender relations. During World War II, changes in British Vogue and compromises made by the literary journal Horizon signaled the death of modernist styles, as Elizabeth Bowen’s gender-bent wartime stories show. Then demure and reserved postwar styles—Dior’s curvy New Look, the Movement’s understated literary irony—were intertwined in the fictions of Barbara Pym and Muriel Spark, who re-dressed the novel with a vengeance. Whether fashioning detective fiction, literary impressionism, or postwar comedy, these novelists used style in every sense to redefine that famous question, “What do women want?”

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The Subversion of Romance in the Novels of Barbara Pym
University of Wisconsin Press, 1998

This book seeks to explore how Barbara Pym subverts the discourse of the romance novel through her use of food, clothes, heroine and hero characterizations, and marriage customs.


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