Positioned at a crossroads between feminist geographies and modernist studies, Excursions into Modernism considers transnational modernist fiction in tandem with more rarely explored travel narratives by women of the period who felt increasingly free to journey abroad and redefine themselves through travel. In an era when Western artists, writers, and musicians sought 'primitive' ideas for artistic renewal, Joyce E. Kelley locates a key similarity between fiction and travel writing in the way women authors use foreign experiences to inspire innovations with written expression and self-articulation. She focuses on the pairing of outward journeys with more inward, introspective ones made possible through reconceptualizing and mobilizing elements of women’s traditional corporeal and domestic geographies: the skin, the ill body, the womb, and the piano. In texts ranging from Jean Rhys’s Voyage in the Dark to Virginia Woolf’s The Voyage Out and from Evelyn Scott’s Escapade to Dorothy Richardson’s Pilgrimage, Kelley explores how interactions between geographic movement, identity formation, and imaginative excursions produce modernist experimentation. Drawing on fascinating supplementary and archival materials such as letters, diaries, newspaper articles, photographs, and unpublished drafts, Kelley’s book cuts across national and geographic borders to offer rich and often revisionary interpretations of both canonical and lesser-known works.
Table of Contents
Introduction: women, travel, and the body; Increasingly imaginative geographies: excursions into otherness, fantasy, and Modernism in early 20th-century women’s travel writing; Narratives of passing: transdermal excursions in Larsen, Rhys, and Hall; Modernist fever: the ‘undiscovered countries’ of illness; ‘I am going on and on to the end of myself where something else begins’: travel, pregnancy, and Modernism; ‘It carried her out of the house, out of the world’: Modernist women writers and the piano; Conclusion: final excursions: Rebecca West’s Black Lamb and Grey Falcon; Bibliography; Index
'In her groundbreaking new book Excursions Into Modernism, Joyce E. Kelley shows how travel shaped the production of women’s imaginative fiction in ways not always acknowledged in conventional genealogies of modernism. By addressing issues of race and class, and by focusing on concepts such as illness, pregnancy, and even the piano, Kelley provides a rich, thoughtful, and rigorous reevaluation of the landscape of modernism even as she extends its geography not only externally on the globe but internally. Kelley's book will prove to be indispensable not only to the field of travel studies but to the new modernist studies as well.' David Farley, St John's University, USA