Jack Quirk (Brown University)
This interdisciplinary panel invites papers from those working at the intersection of any of the following areas: Modernism, Women’s and Gender Studies, Law, and Literary and Critical Theory. It focuses on the literary response to the changing legal landscape in Britain between the years of 1890-1945. Though there has been much critical work on law and gender in the Modernist period, particularly as relates to canonical Modernist figures Virginia Woolf and Ford Madox Ford, among others, this panel invites contributions that considers literary texts in the context of the law, broadly conceived. The Royal Commission on Marriage and Matrimonial Causes of 1909 brought many of the issues surrounding women’s rights to divorce to the public consciousness, compounded by the growing support for women’s rights championed by the suffragette movement. Prior to the Royal Commission the last substantive change to laws pertaining to marriage and divorce was the Matrimonial Causes Act 1837 that effectively severed the connection between canon and civil law in family law jurisdiction.
Recasting important literary texts of the period against the legal
context has the potential to provide a greater understanding of the co-constitutive
effect of law, literature, and culture in a tumultuous historical period that
saw two world wars, a global financial crisis, and the vote for women.