Start Submission Become a Reviewer

Reading: Reexamining the Proletarian Fictional Autobiography: Class, Gender and Aesthetics in Agnes S...

Download

A- A+
Alt. Display

Research

Reexamining the Proletarian Fictional Autobiography: Class, Gender and Aesthetics in Agnes Smedley’s Daughter of Earth

Authors:

John Lennon ,

University of South Florida, US
X close

Magnus Nilsson

Malmö University, SE
X close

Abstract

It is accepted truth that proletarian literature is marked by a tension, or even contradiction, emanating from the social conflict between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. This article explores these contradictions within the proletarian autobiographical novel form, focusing on Agnes Smedley’s Daughter of Earth. Smedley challenges predominately masculine discourse in working-class literature, boldly placing female desire at the center of her political project. Smedley intimately ties her understanding of class with her gender identity, something that was at loggerheads with contemporary leftist male critics who championed her working-class sensibility but resisted the gendered implications of her work. Our article pushes against a solely nationalistic viewpoint that many critics have embraced. To better understand the genre, we place Smedley’s novel in conversation with Swedish working-class writer Moa Martinson’s 1936 autobiographical novel Mor gifter sig [My Mother Gets Married]. By doing so, we analyze the nationalistic context of Smedley’s book, underlining how being ‘poised between bourgeois and revolutionary discursive traditions’ is something historical and place-based, and arguing that this is key to understanding the category of proletarian fictional autobiography.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.35360/njes.613
How to Cite: Lennon, J. and Nilsson, M., 2020. Reexamining the Proletarian Fictional Autobiography: Class, Gender and Aesthetics in Agnes Smedley’s Daughter of Earth. Nordic Journal of English Studies, 19(5), pp.1–28. DOI: http://doi.org/10.35360/njes.613
9
Views
2
Downloads
Published on 19 Dec 2020.
Peer Reviewed

Downloads

  • PDF (EN)