The Outside Thing

Modernist Lesbian Romance

Hannah Roche

Columbia University Press

The Outside Thing

Pub Date: May 2019

ISBN: 9780231188166

272 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $60.00£50.00

Pub Date: May 2019

ISBN: 9780231547697

272 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $59.99£50.00

The Outside Thing

Modernist Lesbian Romance

Hannah Roche

Columbia University Press

In a lecture delivered before the University of Oxford’s Anglo-French Society in 1936, Gertrude Stein described romance as “the outside thing, that . . . is always a thing to be felt inside.” Hannah Roche takes Stein’s definition as a principle for the reinterpretation of three major modernist lesbian writers, showing how literary and affective romance played a crucial yet overlooked role in the works of Stein, Radclyffe Hall, and Djuna Barnes. The Outside Thing offers original readings of both canonical and peripheral texts, including Stein’s first novel Q.E.D. (Things As They Are), Hall’s Adam’s Breed and The Well of Loneliness, and Barnes’s early writing alongside Nightwood.

Is there an inside space for lesbian writing, or must it always seek refuge elsewhere? Crossing established lines of demarcation between the in and the out, the real and the romantic, and the Victorian and the modernist, The Outside Thing presents romance as a heterosexual plot upon which lesbian writers willfully set up camp. These writers boldly adopted and adapted the romance genre, Roche argues, as a means of staking a queer claim on a heteronormative institution. Refusing to submit or surrender to the “straight” traditions of the romance plot, they turned the rules to their advantage. Drawing upon extensive archival research, The Outside Thing is a significant rethinking of the interconnections between queer writing, lesbian living, and literary modernism.
This theoretically sophisticated reading of three lesbian writers—Stein, Hall, and Barnes—is at once playful and serious. Roche’s insistence on the queerness of desire, romance, and love between women takes feminist modernist studies in an exciting new direction. Laura Doan, author of Disturbing Practices: History, Sexuality, and Women's Experience of Modern War
In its lively endorsement of lesbian modernism, The Outside Thing extols the possibilities and pleasures three canonical writers find as they playfully occupy, exploit, and expand conventions of romance and marriage in their intimate lives and iconic writing. Affectionately championing Stein, Hall, and Barnes as liberating the romance plot from its heteronormative constraints, Hannah Roche also aims to rescue these writers from timeworn scholarly assumptions that have held them hostage. Jodie Medd, author of Lesbian Scandal and the Culture of Modernism
Hannah Roche’s The Outside Thing is a valuable contribution to current debates about modernism, sexuality, and women’s writing. Roche’s provocation—that the term lesbian is a critically and theoretically necessary one—is borne out convincingly in her lively and thorough readings of romance in the lives, writing, and writing-lives of Gertrude Stein, Radclyffe Hall, and Djuna Barnes. This is a book that subsequent scholars will learn from. Alex Goody, Oxford Brookes University
List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Introduction: Locating the Lesbian Writer, or “We Inside Us Do Not Change”
Part I: Gertrude Stein
1. “The Outside Thing” and Things As They Are: Gertrude Stein’s Lesbian Romance
2. “No There There”: Inside the Marriage Plot
Part II: Radclyffe Hall
3. Strange Soil and Novel Ground: Radclyffe Hall’s Romance Plots
4. Romantic Emblems and “The Real Thing”: Writing the Souline Affair
Part III: Djuna Barnes
5. From Lesbian Reading to Bisexual Writing: Switching Tracks with Djuna Barnes
6. The Trapeze Effect: Djuna Barnes’s Bisexual Romance
Coda: A Happy Ending?
Notes
Bibliography
Index

About the Author

Hannah Roche is lecturer in twentieth-century literature and culture at the University of York. She has published articles on lesbian modernism in Textual Practice and Modernist Cultures.