The first full-length study to focus exclusively on nineteenth-century British women while examining queer authorship and culture, Jill R. Ehnenn's book is a timely interrogation into the different histories and functions of women's literary partnerships. For Vernon Lee (Violet Paget) and 'Kit' Anstruther-Thomson; Somerville and Ross (Edith Somerville and Violet Martin); Elizabeth Robins and Florence Bell; and Katharine Bradley and Edith Cooper, the couple who wrote under the pseudonym of 'Michael Field', collaborative life and work functioned strategically, as sites of discursive resistance that critique Victorian culture in ways that would be characterized today as feminist, lesbian, and queer. Ehnenn's project shows that collaborative texts from such diverse genres as poetry, fiction, drama, the essay, and autobiography negotiate many limitations of post-Enlightenment patriarchy: Cartesian subjectivity and solitary creativity, industrial capitalism and alienated labor, and heterosexism. In so doing, these jointly authored texts employ a transgressive aesthetic and invoke the potentials of female spectatorship, refusals of representation, and the rewriting of history. Ehnenn's book will be a valuable resource for scholars and students of Victorian literature and culture, women's and gender studies, and collaborative writing.
Table of Contents
Contents: Coming together: an introduction; The 'art and mystery of collaboration': authorial economies, queer pleasures; Looking strategically: feminist and queer aesthetics in 'beauty and ugliness' and Sight and Song; Refusing to perform: performative silences in A Question of Memory and Alan's Wife; Collaborating with history: The Tragic Mary and The Real Charlotte; Engaging differences; Bibliography; Index.
'Based on extensive archival research, Jill Ehnenn's beautifully written book meticulously traces the implications of poststructuralist theories of language, sexuality, subjectivity, ideology, and literary representation in works by several women collaborators. Ehnenn is also deeply responsive to the actualities and ethics of women collaborators' lived experience and her own acts of writing, acting, and identification. This rich merging of theory and praxis forms an important contribution to queer, authorship, feminist, and composition studies as well as literary histories of aestheticism and the New Woman.' Linda Hughes, Texas Christian University, USA ’The concluding chapter begins by reasserting Ehnenn's understanding of women's collaboration as a mode of articulation, a challenge to received, ideological notions, and a redefining of authorship, literature, and the sex/gender system, and ends with a call for further exploration of female collaboration, for "future study of women who lived, loved and worked together" . Women's Literary Collaboration - a significant contribution to Victorian studies, a notable effort at canon expansion, a meaningful, necessary strand of queer-feminist discourse - stands as a testament to the worth of such an endeavor.’ Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies ’Overall, Ehnenn’s book is an entertaining, valuable and original addition to the study of late Victorian women writers. In a flourishing critical market, it finds new avenues for discussion - not dwelling primarily upon poetry or poets - and brings relatively ignored writers to the centre stage. ...[an] innovative book. It is clearly a work which will open up new avenues of thought not only with regard to the individual writers, but women’s studies in general.’ Women: a cultural review