Explores the intersection of feminism, historical fiction, and modernism through the work of six writers who wrote historical novels set in ancient Greece or Rome: Naomi Mitchison, Mary Butts, Laura Riding, Phyllis Bentley Bryher, and Mary Renault.
"...Arguing that history provides a set of stories against which, and through which, human beings define ourselves, the author finds in the historical fiction of six modern women writers a range of strategies for claiming their cultural heritage while simultaneously differentiating themselves, as women, from its masculinist understanding of the past.... The study makes a reader able to understand what modern women writers found as the appeal -- and indeed, the function for self-construction -- of historical fiction. Not only does this book open up the work of six relatively underappreciated and very interesting novelists, but it explores how their work both reflects, and uses, the fascination with things Roman and Greek at the turn of the twentieth century". -- Susan Squier, Brill Professor of English and Women's Studies, Pennslyvania State University
Gendering Classicism explores the intersection of feminism, historical fiction, and modernism through the work of six writers, all of whom wrote historical novels set in ancient Greece or Rome: Naomi Mitchison, Mary Butts, Laura Riding, Phyllis Bentley, Bryher, and Mary Renault.
As women gained access to higher education in the late-nineteenth century, they gained access also to the classical learning that had for so long demarcated and legitimated the British ruling classes. Steeped in misogyny, the classical tradition presented educated women with a massive project: the recasting of thattradition in terms that acknowledged the existence of women -- as historical agents and interpreters of the historical past.