Focusing on their conception and use of the notion of the mother, Modernism, Self-Creation, and the Maternal proposes a new interpretation of literature by modernist authors like Rousseau, Baudelaire, Poe, Rimbaud, Rilke, Joyce, and Beckett. Seen through this maternal relation, their writing appears as the product of an "anxiety" rising not from paternal influence, but from the violence done to their mother in their attempts at self-creation through writing. In order to bring to light this modernist violence, this study analyzes these authors in tandem with Derrida’s work on the gender-specific violence of the Western philosophical and literary tradition. The book demonstrates how these writer-sons wrote their works in a constant crisis vis-à-vis the mother’s body as site of both origin and dissolution. It proves how, if modernism was first established as a patrilineal heritage, it was ultimately written on the bodies of women and mothers, confusing them in order to appropriate their generative traits.
This series publishes monographs and essay collections on literature, art, and culture in the context of the diverse aesthetic, political, social, technological, and scientific innovations that arose among the Victorians and Modernists. Viable topics include, but are not limited to, artistic and cultural debates and movements; influential figures and communities; and agitations and developments regarding subjects such as animals, commodification, decadence, degeneracy, democracy, desire, ecology, gender, nationalism, the paranormal, performance, public art, sex, socialism, spiritualities, transnationalism, and the urban. Studies that address continuities between the Victorians and Modernists are welcome. Work on recent responses to the periods such as NeoVictorian novels, graphic novels, and film will also be considered.