"A Sort of Rathmines Version of a Dior Design": Maeve Brennan, Self-Fashioning, and the Uses of Style
Women: A Cultural Review
Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Taylor & Francis (Routledge) via the DOI in this record.
Reason for embargo
This article explores the politics of style in the writing of Maeve Brennan. Brennan's concern with style, subjectivity and power is strikingly visible in her short stories and ‘Talk of the Town’ essays for the New Yorker. While in some of her short stories published in the New Yorker in the 1950s, Brennan seems to offer an extended critique of dandyism, elsewhere in her writing self-fashioning takes on an altogether more positive value and is steeped in the political as well as literary commitments of her work. The article argues that Brennan's interest in the politics of style, both personally and in her writing, is informed by the different strategies she deployed as an Irish woman writer establishing her place amongst a New York literary elite in the mid twentieth century.
This work began as a conversation with Neil Sammells about Irish women's writing and self-fashioning, and his encouragement and insightful responses to ideas in development were invaluable to the progress of the research. I am also very grateful to Maureen O'Connor and Caitríona Clear, whose work on the Irish woman writer and dandyism, and women and magazine culture, lays an all-important foundation for the arguments developed here. Archival research for the article was made possible by a Fulbright Scholarship in the Humanities (September 2012—January 2013), and I am most grateful to my host institution, Fordham University in New York. I would like to thank the literary estate of Maeve Brennan for kind permission to cite from Maeve Brennan's letters and unpublished material held in the Special Collections at the University of Delaware and the Manuscripts and Archives Division of the New York Public Library. The work was completed with the assistance of a Moore Institute Visiting Fellowship to the National University of Ireland, Galway in 2015, which provided a valuable opportunity to present work in progress as part of the seminar series hosted by the Centre for Irish Studies. Finally, I am grateful to the anonymous peer reviewers and editors at Women: A Cultural Review for their thorough and expert responses to the article.
Vol. 27 (1), pp. 42 - 61