Frontmatter

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Contents

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p. vii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xiii

Dorothy Parker complained, “Why is it no one ever sent me yet / One perfect limousine, do you suppose?” Thankfully, I have ridden deluxe, so to speak, through every stage of this book’s conception and execution thanks to the people with whom I have had the privilege to work and play. To my mentors, colleagues, family, and friends, I offer these ...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-19

The December 1923 issue of Vanity Fair featured “A Very Modern Love Story” by Nancy Hoyt, sister of the poet Elinor Wylie. In this fable, a “young, fashionable, well bred, and rich” man laments that he has “found no maiden at all up to his standard.”1 He watches a beautiful modern girl...

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1. Thoroughly Modern Millay and Her Middlebrow Masquerades

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pp. 20-50

In his introduction to the November 1921 issue of Vanity Fair, Donald Ogden Stewart celebrated a female humorist whose byline had appeared in the magazine since January. Like her contemporary Mae West who promised that too much of a good thing could be wonderful, Nancy Boyd vowed to her readers...

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2. “This Unfortunate Exterior”: Dorothy Parker, the Female Body, and Strategic Doubling

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pp. 51-78

In magazines of the 1920s, Art Deco representations of the modern woman rivaled New York City’s rising skyscrapers in height and symbolic glory.1 One ad for stockings featured a drawing of a giant woman tiptoeing through the New York grid at Park Avenue and Fifty-seventh Street.2 The October 1926 issue...

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3. “First Aid to Laughter”: Jessie Fauset and the Racial Politics of Smartness

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pp. 79-109

In Alain Locke’s famous 1925 collection, The New Negro, Jessie Fauset, the literary editor of the Crisis magazine, published an essay on black stereo-types and humor on the American stage called “The Gift of Laughter.” Fauset immediately announces the irony of the association...

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4. The Indestructible Glamour Girl: Dawn Powell, Celebrity, and Counterpublics

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pp. 110-140

Dawn Powell is the only writer featured prominently in this book who did not occupy a heralded position in the firmament of interwar literary New York. She remained largely unknown outside literary circles in spite of her impressive productivity as a novelist (publishing fifteen novels, the first in 1925 and the last in 1962), her steady work as a book ...

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5. “Scratch a Socialist and You Find a Snob”: Mary McCarthy, Irony, and Politics

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pp. 141-171

For a female magazine writer raised on Vogue and educated at Vassar to join a Marxist intellectual elite would seem unlikely if not actively quixotic. Perhaps best known as the author of The Group (1963), a novel about a circle of Vassar graduates and their experiences in New York, Mary McCarthy...

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Conclusion

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pp. 173-179

In a 2008 New York Times editorial, Susan Faludi regretfully compared our own era to the 1920s: “Again, the news media showcases young women’s ‘feminist-new style’ pseudo-liberation—the flapper is now a girl-gone-wild.”1 Faludi, linking the rise in modern print culture with the redirection of women’s choices...

Notes

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pp. 181-207

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 209-216

Index

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pp. 217-225

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About the Author

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p. 226

Catherine Keyser is an assistant professor of English at the University of South Carolina. A feminist scholar of American literature, she has previously published on Hannah Crafts, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Dorothy Parker. Her essay “Girls Who Wear Glasses” about New York...