“That’s all there is to it”: Feminized Forms of Autonomy in Absolute Bestseller Interviews

My project will analyze interviews with a cohort of British “absolute bestseller” women writers in periodicals from 1899-1930 to outline a feminized form of autonomy that differs from the Bourdieuian autonomy practiced by male, highbrow authors. These women writers construct an authorial persona based on disinterestedness, self-concealment via deference, and an understanding of writing as a natural act of pleasure, invoking an older form of feminized autonomy like that of the poetess. Rather than seeking autonomy from commercial success or popularity, these authoresses pose themselves as pure mediators of public emotion while slipping the gendered constraints of a masculine, professionalizing field.

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