Monday, 22 September 2008

Gender in Modernism and the Movies. . .

I've just gotten my hands on two big, meaty anthologies that promise hours of interesting reading (and will probably lead me along the path to many more books). Gender in Modernism edited by Bonnie Kime Scott is a companion piece to her earlier anthology The Gender of Modernism, which is practically a bible for anyone studying modernist writing (check out her web of intersecting lines near the front of the book, her "tangled mesh of modernists" showing how all these amazing writers were connected to each other - absolutely fascinating stuff). This new book - all 872 weighty pages of it - has excepts organized into 21 different parts, each selected and with an introduction by a different academic in the field, many of whom I have previously read and admired such as Julia Briggs, Suzanne Clark, Janet Lyon and Claire M. Tylee. The topics are far-reaching and international. Lots of pieces on activism and suffragism, and the impact of the First World War, which includes an extract from Virginia Woolf's holography of "The Prime Minister" - an early draft of what would become Mrs. Dalloway, focusing on Septimus Smith's post-traumatic stress disorder. Another particularly interesting looking section is entitled "Mediumship, Automatism and Modernist Authorship". And there are extracts from the drama of the period, and essays on dance, painting and film.

The final section of Scott's anthology, "Cineastes and Modernists: Writing on Film in 1920s London", leads me straight into Red Velvet Seat: Women's Writing on the First Fifty Years of Cinema edited by Antonia Lant and Ingrid Periz - another 800 plus page doorstopper. I've been salivating over the selections in this collection, many by some of my favourite writers. Here are essays such as "Why I Go to the Cinema" by Elizabeth Bowen; "The Wanton Playgoer" by Djuna Barnes; "The Mask and the Movietone" by H.D. and "The Film Gone Male" by Dorothy Richardson. Under a section entitled "Cinema as a Power" are essays by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Marie Stopes, Rebecca West, and Anita Loos. Wearing "The Critic's Hat" are Louella O. Parsons, Colette, Janet Flanner, Katherine Anne Porter and Bryher. I'll certainly be reading the section, "In the Shadow of War" in its entirety. And along with analyses of the impact of cinema on culture and society, there are also pieces by actresses, and women directors, cinematographers, and screenwriters. Emily Post even gives advice on how to politely make your way across a row filled with people to your seat in the middle:
Remember also not to drag anything across the heads of those sitting in front of you. At the moving pictures, especially when it is dark and difficult to see, a coat on an arm passing behind a chair can literally devastate the hair-dressing of a lady occupying it.

Delicious, simply delicious.

No comments: