Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Date Information

May, 2018





First Advisor

Keja Valens


From the introduction:

American Modernism is a literary era that stands out as producing some of the most challenging texts in the last century. With Modernism came the advent of the psychoanalytic lens in literary criticism, a mourning for the “loss” of traditional literary value, and a belief in deep structures in writing. American Modernist works, such as T.S. Eliot’s “The Wasteland” and Ezra Pound’s “Hugh Selwyn Mauberley,” have consistently remained in the spotlight of literary criticism, and despite the wide variety in the interpretations of these works, their value and contribution to literary tradition is seldom disputed. This is not so for all of their contemporaries, most notably Gertrude Stein. Though Stein is considered a prominent figure in the American Modernist movement, her works deviate from the consistent paths of interpretation that are used to examine the work of her contemporaries. According to Shirley Neuman,

Outside the growing body of academic Stein criticism, Gertrude Stein’s public presence, her reputation in any segment of the culture which is aware of her at all, seems to have little to do with her work. Unlike the writers and artists with whom she is generally grouped, she not so much as a writer as a ‘personality,’ the center of one of those nodes of celebrity which are equated with the avant-garde in highbrow mythology. (8)

In addition, Neuman notes that scholarship on Stein’s reputation focuses less on Stein herself and more on the famous men--Picasso, Hemingway, etc.-- that she was known for associating with. Her writing is rarely examined on its own for its embodiment of Modernist values or for its contributions to the literary era--the focus of the majority of Stein scholarship (i.e. Dubnick, Wight, Kley, etc.) is what or who influenced her. Thus, although her name is strongly associated with Modernism, Stein is simultaneously marginalized from the literary era.