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From the Modernist Annex, From the Modernist Annex, 0817316981, 0-8173-1698-1, 978-0-8173-1698-3, 9780817316983, , , From the Modernist Annex, 0817383964, 0-8173-8396-4, 978-0-8173-8396-1, 9780817383961,

From the Modernist Annex
American Women Writers in Museums and Libraries
Karin Roffman

Trade Cloth
2010. 272 pp.
Price:  $44.95 s
E Book
2010. 272 pp.
13 Illustrations
Price:  $44.95 d


In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the majority of women were forced to seek their education outside the walls of American universities. Many turned to museums and libraries, for their own enlightenment, for formal education, and also for their careers. In Roffman’s close readings of four modernist writers—Edith Wharton, Nella Larsen, Marianne Moore, and Ruth Benedict—she studied the that modernist women writers were simultaneously critical of and shaped by these institutions.
From the Modernist Annex offers new and critically significant ways of understanding these writers and their texts, the distribution of knowledge, and the complicated place of women in modernist institutions.


Karin Roffman is an assistant professor of English at the United States Military Academy at West Point.

"Roffman (West Point) analyzes four US writers--Edith Wharton, Nella Larsen, Marianne Moore, and Ruth Benedict--devoting a chapter to each. Although these modernists never met, the author unites them through their associations with American libraries and museums. In her introduction, Roffman presents a history of US cultural institutions and argues that they systematized knowledge to shape public opinion. The chapter on Wharton closely examines The Age of Innocence, particularly the scenes that occur in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, of which Wharton's uncle had been president. In the Larsen and Moore chapters, Roffman connects the authors' employment as New York librarians to their writing. For Larsen, systems of knowledge were often systems of exclusion. For Moore, who was also an assistant to Melville Dewey (the creator of the Dewey Decimal System), systemization of knowledge was both appealing and restraining. Benedict is best known as a pioneering cultural anthropologist, and Roffman presents her poetry as countering her scholarly career and its institutions. The details of this study are fascinating, but because the four authors differ greatly, the thesis is expansive. Summing Up: Recommended. Graduates students, researchers."


“This book has, at its heart, a smart and illuminating thesis about women modernists’ complex engagement with and analyses of various modern cultural and educational institutions.”---Francesca Sawaya, associate professor of English at the University of Oklahoma and the author of Modern Women, Modern Work: Domesticity, Professionalism, and American Writing, 1890-1950

From the Modernist Annex is an original and significant contribution to the field of modern American literature studies, and in particular the field of cultural studies.”--Mary M. Balkun, associate professor of English at Seton Hall University and the author of The American Counterfeit: Authenticity and Identity in American Literature and Culture



2008 The Elizabeth Agee Prize in American Literature, sponsored by University of Alabama Press

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