The Politics of the Page Recontextualizing Willa Cather, Zora Neale Hurston, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Una Marson

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Jennifer Sorensen


This essay argues that attending to the bibliographic codes of early and multiple versions can enhance our understandings of the material forms of texts in the ways that George Bornstein modeled in Material Modernism. Focusing on modernist women’s complex engagements with print cultures, the essay analyzes pages from Willa Cather’s novel The Professor’s House, Zora Neale Hurston’s short story “Sweat”, Gwendolyn Brooks’s sonnet “the progress”, and Una Marson’s poem “Little Brown Girl”. These texts are most widely available in editions that place their richest print contexts “under erasure”. This essay argues that these kinds of material analyses can be used to center the work of Black women modernists as these approaches can enrich the research and teaching of less canonical texts without as many versions.


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For George Bornstein (August 25, 1941– February 2, 2021)
Author Biography

Jennifer Sorensen, Texas A & M–Corpus Christi

Jennifer Sorensen is an Associate Professor of English and Co-Coordinator of the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at Texas A & M–Corpus Christi. Her first book, Modernist Experiments in Genre, Media, and Transatlantic Print Culture, was published in January 2017 in the Ashgate Studies in Publishing History Series by Routledge. Her second book-project-in-progress, Printing Women: Materializing Gender, Race, and Embodiment in the Modernist Marketplace, analyzes the intersections of gender, race, and print culture in the publication histories of Gwendolyn Brooks, Jean Rhys, Zora Neale Hurston, Elizabeth Bowen, Willa Cather, Sylvia Plath, and Una Marson. She has published articles in several edited collections as well as in Victorian Poetry, Intervalla, Studies in the Novel, Narrative, and the Henry James Review.