Mina Loy: The feminine inscription of modernism

Joan L Randall, University of Rhode Island


This study re-revaluates the modernist challenge to bourgeois art and life through a feminist and poststructuralist reading of the selected early poetry of the British-American Mina Loy (1882-1966). I argue that Mina Loy and her work represent the "other" of modernist cultural production and draw on French feminist theory to show how the objectification of "woman" in modernist aesthetics--as something to be controlled, dominated and contained--is the arena of Mina Loy's struggle to achieve selfhood. I see Loy's poetry as an eruption of this objectification, through which she becomes a speaking subject. Avant-garde practice, in its disruption of the "subject" and the codes of its representation, I suggest, inscribes a non-linear, heterogeneous space akin to what recent feminist theorists term the "feminine." What Loy's relationship is to this new space, its risks, and how she comes to speak it are the concerns of this study. Her relationship and response to Italian Futurism and the American Dada of Marcel Duchamp reveal Loy's concern with feminine subjectivity at a time when the avant-garde was disrupting identities of all sorts. I argue that her modernist predicament engenders a different relation to language and desire, most evident in the character of her humor and her different assimilation of modernist forms. ^

Subject Area

Language, Modern|Art History|Literature, American

Recommended Citation

Joan L Randall, "Mina Loy: The feminine inscription of modernism" (1990). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI9106525.