This article explores the Modernist life narrative in the context of interwar citizenship policies that exposed women to an increased risk of statelessness on both sides of the Atlantic. Read together, Agnes Smedley’s Daughter of Earth (1929) and Virginia Woolf’s Three Guineas (1938) bring this transnational context into view. While access to rights may indicate the ideal endpoint of subject-formation in the traditional Bildungsroman, Woolf and Smedley demonstrate how women’s access to rights comes at the cost of nonnormative desire. Their works use a rhetoric of incivility to mark emergent agencies within and alongside formal structures of citizenship.


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