Publication Date
Publication Status
Out of print
Literary studies: from c 1900 -
Trim Size
228 x 152mm

Stressing the Modern


Stressing the Modern: Cultural Politics in Australian Women’s Poetry is the first major study of women’s poetic careers in early twentieth-century Australia. This was a particularly prolific period for women poets as a rapidly changing social climate generated new, often still ambivalent, identities around gender, race, class, and nation. Negotiating the ‘modern’ landscape and the ‘modern’ psyche through the complex effects of Federation, the suffrage movement, World War I, increasing industrialisation and urbanisation, and advances in technology necessitated innovations in poetic form and a rethinking of authorship. This exciting study examines the increasing visibility and popularity of women as poets, their shaping of literary tastes through editing and criticism, their cross-influence and friendships, and the resulting backlash within Australian literary circles. Furthermore, it traces how these writers mediated their experiences of travel, expatriation, and transnationalism against the desire to produce a literature of difference, that is, poetry that was regionally or culturally distinct. Using extensive archival material, Stressing the Modern offers a new understanding of the emergence of literary modernism in Australia. It demonstrates the significance of poetry as both a popular and a radical site for articulating ‘modern’ lives and their concerns.

Praise for this Book

‘This study is also an outstanding instance of contemporary criticism, a brilliant blend of original archival research, in-depth contextualisation of the poetry, and authoritative biographical framing of these women’s lives as writers, feminists, intellectuals, lawyers, political activists, publishers and journalists. It will focus international critical and scholarly attention on the many defining contributions these women poets have made to modernism in Australia.’ —Philip Mead

‘Ann Vickery and Salt Publishing have performed a great service for Australian literary culture. The publication of Stressing the Modern: Cultural Politics in Australian Women's Poetry delivers to scholars, poets and all those interested in Australia’s rich poetic culture, a detailed and fascinating account of what it meant, at the beginning of the twentieth century, to be a woman, an intellectual, a poet in Australia.’ —Lyn McCredden

Stressing the Modern is an informative and fascinating volume. These seven Australian women poets – Gilmore, Pitt, Fullerton, Wickham, Cross, Harford, Palmer – can at last be fully celebrated as the early voices of Australia's dynamic poetry culture! Students of Australian literature, and everyone interested in poetry, will be exuberant at the publication of this important, much needed critical work.’ —Lyn McCredden