New Book: Modern Sentimentalism by Lisa Mendelman

Author: Lisa Mendelman

Modern Sentimentalism: Affect, Irony, and Female Authorship in Interwar America

Oxford University Press, 2020

Modern Sentimentalism examines how American female novelists reinvented sentimentalism in the modernist period. Taking up icons such as the New Woman, the flapper, the free lover, the New Negro woman, and the divorcée, the book argues that these figures embody aspects of a traditional sentimentality while also recognizing sentiment as incompatible with ideals of modern selfhood. These double binds equally beleaguer the protagonists and shape the styles of writers like Willa Cather, Edith Wharton, Anita Loos, and Jessie Fauset. “Modern sentimentalism” thus translates nineteenth-century conventions of sincerity and emotional fulfillment into the skeptical, self-conscious modes of interwar cultural production.

“Mendelman’s book may be one of the most important studies of a generation of American literary scholarship. Mendelman’s method is rich, complicated, and nuanced: a fascinating combination of psychoanalytic, archival, print cultural, deconstructive, and formalist analyses.” — Mary Chapman, University of British Columbia

“Lisa Mendelman’s Modern Sentimentalismoffers a fresh, dynamic, and thoroughly convincing recasting of early twentieth-century fiction. In her retelling, formal moves associated with modernism such as irony and fragmentation bespeak not a rejection of the sentimental, but an analytic disposition toward it, shot through with unresolved attachment. This project makes room for a genuinely new and powerful category in literary criticism.” — Jennifer Fleisser, Indiana University 

This book is available for purchase from Oxford University Press, and you can use the code: AAFLYG6 for 30% off your purchase.