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"If It Is Sincere, It Will Rouse Hostility": The Freewoman, Feminisms, and Print Culture in Early Twentieth-Century England

By Sage M. Milo


This dissertation is an examination of The Freewoman (1911-12) as a feminist publication, and its editor Dora Marsdens (1882-1960) particular role in the journal. It examines periodical culture and feminisms, and the possibilities that periodicals open up for feminist thought and politics through the characteristics of this publishing genre. These include a focus on the emotional community created in and through The Freewoman, as well as its self-reflexive grappling with its role as a periodical. Using The Freewoman and archival collections and life-writing related to it, this dissertation asks: how did periodicals function as sites for articulating feminist thought in ways that reached beyond the limitations of formal politics like suffrage? How did they foster the diversification and expansion of feminism in progressive directions? How might attention to the emotional aspects of periodicals and the communities created in and through them enrich the historical narratives of first-wave feminism, and feminisms more broadly? And what possibilities does a reflexive and intentional use of the capacities of a medium and genre (in this case the independent periodical) open for feminist politics? This dissertation highlights the importance of dissent and conflict to feminism, through The Freewoman. I argue that the periodical contributed to the diversification of early-twentieth century feminism not only through its subject matter but importantly through insisting on dissent, conflict, and difference as essential to the progress, if not the very existence, of feminism. Using the characteristics of the periodical as a publishing genre, The Freewoman created a space and a community that were intensely political, while allowing for the expression of opinions and emotions that were perceived as destructive. It is in the alternative space that The Freewoman created, I offer, that its uniqueness and importance lie. Through its resistance of artificial unity and its emphasis on dialogue and conflict as a constant state, rather than a troubled moment that should be resolved, I see The Freewoman also as creating a queer space or counterpublic, in the sense of challenging normativity in a range of areas

Topics: Gender studies, The Freewoman, Dora Marsden, Feminism, Couterpublic, Periodicals, Emotional Community
Year: 2018
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Provided by: YorkSpace

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