Middlebrow Moderns: Popular American Women Writers of the 1920s

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9781555535575: Middlebrow Moderns: Popular American Women Writers of the 1920s

Critics often define the modernist period as the dichotomy between the high culture of edgy literary experimentation and the low culture of dime store novels, gritty detective stories, and other genre fiction, dismissing the significant group of American women writers who negotiated the delicate balance between critical and commercial success. Burdened with the derogatory label "middlebrow" by the literary elite, these authors of popular fiction nevertheless wrote scores of bestsellers, won awards, and had their works adapted into major Hollywood films. The unique contribution of these "middlebrow moderns" to early twentieth-century culture is now explored in this pathbreaking collection of original articles. Examining women writers from diverse backgrounds and works from a broad range of media, including literature, magazines, book clubs, advertising, radio, and film, the essayists show how authors such as Winnifred Easton, Jessie Redmon Fauset, Nella Larsen, Anita Loos, Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Edna Ferber, and Fannie Hurst bridged gaps in an audience increasingly fragmented by economic, racial, ethnic, and regional differences. A valuable addition to American literary studies, cultural studies, and women's history, Middlebrow Moderns also illuminates today's gendered culture wars.

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7 illus.

About the Author:

Lisa Botshon is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Maine. She lives in Brunswick, Maine. Meredith Goldsmith is Assistant Professor of English at Whitman College. She lives in Walla Walla, Washington. Joan Shelly Rubin is Professor of History at the University of Rochester.

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