Nancy Cunard: Perfect Stranger reshapes our understanding of a woman, whose role in key historical,
political, and cultural moments of the 20th century was either
dismissed and attacked, or undervalued. Here, Jane Marcus, who was one of the
most insightful critics of modernism and a pioneering feminist scholar, is
unafraid and unapologetic in addressing and contesting Nancy Cunard’s
reputation and reception as a spoiled heiress and “sexually dangerous New
Woman.” Instead, with her characteristic provocative and energetic writing
style, Marcus insists we reconsider
issues of gender, race, and class in relation to the accusations, stereotypes,
and scandal, which have dominated, and continue to dominate, our perception of
Cunard in the public record. In the wake of inadequate histories of radical writing
and activism, Nancy Cunard: Perfect
Stranger brings its subject into the 21st century, offering a
bold and innovative portrait of a woman we all thought we knew.
'[The book] provides new readings of [Cunard's] work and her role in transatlantic modernism. [...] Marcus takes new comparative approaches for understanding Cunard's contribution [and] interest in her work continues to grow. Marcus’ passionate defence of Cunard will further energize these discussions.'
Mercedes Aguirre, Times Literary Supplement
Jane Marcus, one of the most insightful critics of modernism, was a Distinguished Professor of English at The Graduate Center of the City University of New York. A pioneering feminist literary scholar, she specialized in women writers of the modernist era, changing the way we read the work of Virginia Woolf, Rebecca West, and Nancy Cunard, among others, by focusing on the social and political context and implications of their writing. She published extensively in her field, including such foundational titles as Virginia Woolf and the Languages of Patriarchy (1987); Art and Anger: Reading Like a Woman (1988); and Hearts of Darkness: White Women Write Race (2004). As an educator, her seminars on literary modernism, “the other” World War I, the Spanish Civil War, and Virginia Woolf for the 21st Century, were highly regarded and generative, as she inspired succeeding generations of young scholars and activists to mine the archives in order to adjust and correct the public record. Jean Mills is a feminist scholar and literary critic specializing in Peace Studies, Virginia Woolf, intellectual history, feminist theory, and literary modernism. She is the author of Virginia Woolf, Jane Ellen Harrison, and the Spirit of Modernist Classicism (2014), as well as essays on Gertrude Stein, Hope Mirrlees, Jane Ellen Harrison, and Virginia Woolf, and the intersections of gender, race, and class. She is an Associate Editor of the journal Feminist Modernist Studies, dividing her time between New York City and Accord, New York. She is currently at work on a collection of essays Literary Approaches to Peace and a full length study 1924: A Year in the Life of Virginia Woolf.