- Katherine Mansfield and Periodical Culture by Chris Mourant
Combining deep knowledge of Katherine Mansfield's work and life with a rich understanding of the magazines in which she forged her career, Katherine Mansfield and Periodical Culture by Chris Mourant offers fresh insight into a wide swath of Mansfield's writings. He adeptly traces the [End Page 169] publication histories and the intellectual and aesthetic debates of those magazines with which she was most closely involved, enriching and complicating our understanding of Mansfield's professional development. He shines a spotlight on neglected aspects of her oeuvre—such as her book reviews, satirical sketches, and pseudo-translations of Russian poetry—while unearthing two previously unpublished works in the archives: "Bites from the Apple" (1911) and "A Little Episode" (1909). A valuable resource to future scholars, these short works are appended to the book, along with a comprehensive list of Mansfield's periodical publications.
Periodicals have been a valuable resource for scholars of women's print culture, making visible neglected writers, print venues, and genres. Attesting to the robust interest in this area over the past decade are monographs on middlebrow magazines (for example, Catherine Keyser's 2010 Playing Smart: New York Women Writers and Modern Magazine Culture and Faye Hammill and Michelle Smith's 2015 work Magazines, Travel, and Middlebrow Culture: Canadian Periodicals in English and French, 1925-1960), gender in the socialist press (specifically, Rachel Schreiber's 2011 publication Gender and Activism in a Little Magazine: The Modern Figures of the "Masses"), and feminist and suffrage periodicals (notably Maria DiCenzo, Lucy Delap, and Leila Ryan's 2011 publication Feminist Media History: Suffrage, Periodicals and the Public Sphere; Catherine Clay's 2018 Time and Tide: The Feminist and Cultural Politics of a Modern Magazine; and Barbara Green's 2017 Feminist Periodicals and Daily Life: Women and Modernity in British Culture), among others. These studies have given us a much richer appreciation of the diversity of women's writing in the period than one gleans from many modernist anthologies—unearthing obscure figures worthy of our attention and enriching our understanding of canonical ones by shedding light on networks of literary production and reception and on the cultural conversations in which this writing was embedded.
Mansfield—once read as an apolitical writer, disengaged from her time—has particularly benefited from recontextualization of her work. Scholars have shown that her work dialogically engages with the ideas and aesthetics of the periodicals in which she published. They have traced the way it responds to socialist and feminist politics (Lee Garver's 2001 Lost Politics: "The New Age" and the Edwardian Socialist Roots of British Modernism); Fauvist aesthetics (Angela Smith's 2000 Katherine Mansfield: A Literary Life); metropolitan primitivism (Carey Snyder's 2014 article "Katherine Mansfield, Rhythm, and Metropolitan Primitivism"); colonialism and internationalism (Janet Wilson and Gerri Kimber's 2011 collection Celebrating Katherine Mansfield: A Centenary Volume of Essays; Anna Snaith's 2014 Modernist Voyages: Colonial Women Writers in London, 1890-1945; Richard Cappuccio's 2014 "War Thoughts and Home: Katherine Mansfield's Model of a Hardened Heart in a Broken World"); and the [End Page 170] pressures of the marketplace and of sometimes combative literary networks (Faith Binckes's 2010 Modernism, Magazines, and the British Avant-Garde: Reading Rhythm, 1910-1914; Sydney Janet Kaplan's 2010 Circulating Genius: John Middleton Murry, Katherine Mansfield and D. H. Lawrence; Jenny McDonnell's 2010 Katherine Mansfield and the Modernist Marketplace: At the Mercy of the Public; and Snyder's 2010 article "Katherine Mansfield and the New Age School of Satire"). A book-length study of Mansfield's periodical context was overdue, and Mourant's book rises to the occasion, navigating a lively tradition of scholarship that stretches back nearly two decades, while making a number of original contributions to the field.
Much like Jean Rhys studies, Mansfield scholarship often has been bifurcated into studies that position her work within a metropolitan-modernist framework and those that focus on its colonial/settler context. Mourant avoids this tendency by reading Mansfield through a transnational lens, responding...