The University of Wisconsin Press

British Literature / Cultural Studies / Women's Studies

Stevie Smith's Resistant Antics
Laura Severin

"Unique in its focus on the full range of Stevie Smith's art."
—Ann Ardis, University of Delaware

The British writer Stevie Smith (1902–1971), perhaps best known for her poetry, also produced novels, short stories, literary reviews, drawings, and performance art. Laura Severin's engaging and extensive study challenges the notions of Smith as an apolitical and eccentric poet, instead portraying her as a well-connected literary insider who used many genres to resist domestic ideology in Britain. This book explores the connections between Smith's work and mass media production; twentieth-century historical events; her romantic and Victorian predecessors; and such contemporaries as Virginia Woolf, Dorothy Parker, Aldous Huxley, and Evelyn Waugh. By presenting Smith in the cultural milieu surrounding World War II, Severin illuminates the still dark period of British women's writing from 1930 to 1960.

Focusing on the complete works of Stevie Smith, Severin suggests that Smith's boundary-crossing art forms, which transgress genres and even media, represent an attempt to undo the coherence of femininity as defined in the conservative period of World War II. Tracing her works chronologically, Stevie Smith's Resistant Antics explores the crossing of popular romance and experimental women's fiction in Smith's three novels, the use of contrapuntal technique in her drawings and poetry, the movement from satire to fantasy in her short stories, the combination of performance and poetry in her sung poems, and her work as a popular and literary reviewer. Drawing upon extensive archival research, Severin presents Smith's work as an act of resistance.

Laura Severin is associate professor of English and director of women's and gender studies at North Carolina State University.

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April 1997
LC: 96-043625 PR
176 pp.   6 x 9  
2 b/w photos, 14 drawings

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Paper $18.95 s
ISBN 978-0-299-15294-9
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"Severin provides valid reasons why cultural historians, feminists, and literary scholars should pay attention to the works of Stevie Smith. She argues that within Smith's work lies an effort to resist the conservative domestic ideology of her time, and that the techniques Smith employed in her writings, drawings, and performance poetry, are utilized as forms of resistance."
—Jack V. Barbera, University of Mississippi

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