Camp in Literary Modernism : Reading the Performance of Gender and Race

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2021-04-29

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Abstract

This dissertation investigates the literary style of four modernists—Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Mae West—in terms of camp. As Susan Sontag suggests in her essay about camp, the concept is useful in reexamining the interrelationship between form and content (In my discussion, I use form and style interchangeably). According to Sontag, it means not only literary style, but it also includes fashion styles. Since camp is a practice, intentional or not, it deconstructs what is supposed to be natural and essential, Sontag’s reappreciation of form leads to the question of performativity. As the subtitle of my dissertation suggests, the purpose of using camp is to examine the ways in which the authors’ literary performance constitutes their gender and racial identities. My camp reading is to see those authors’ act of writing as a performance through which they established their public images. It should be noted that I do not locate the authors’ sexuality and racial identities as the cause of their performance but as the effect of their act of writing.

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Camp (Style) in literature, Modernism (Literature), Performative (Philosophy)

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