(Re)writing the Machine: Modernism, Gender and Technology
This project researches the relations between literature, gender and technology in the works of three early twentieth-century British women writers: Bryher (pseudonym of Annie Winifred Ellerman), Mina Loy and Nancy Cunard. It starts from the assumption that gender and technology are cultural constructs that are co-produced. Building on the work of gender theorist Judith Butler, scientist Donna Haraway and literary scholar N. Katherine Hayles, I examine the ways in which the selected women writers explored technology’s potential to transform traditional gender roles. I trace the complex interrelations between gender, science and technology in the poetic and cinematographic work of Bryher, who was concerned with ideas of transgender and psychoanalysis; in the poetry, prose and artwork of Mina Loy, who is known for her sensual and sexual topics; and in the poetic experiments and editorial work of Nancy Cunard, who owned and operated a small printing press called The Hours Press. Although the relation between modernism and technology has long fascinated scholars, there is a tendency in the field to focus on male authors. In addition, scholars focus on either the metaphorical or the material meaning of technology without studying their interrelations. This project aims to anticipate and remediate these two tendencies by exploring the metaphorical and material meanings of technology in the works of three British women writers.