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American Literary History and the Turn toward Modernity$
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Melanie V. Dawson and Meredith L. Goldsmith

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780813056043

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813056043.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM FLORIDA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.florida.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University Press of Florida, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in FLASO for personal use.date: 05 July 2022

Laura Jean Libbey and Sexual Transformation

Laura Jean Libbey and Sexual Transformation

(p.199) 7 Laura Jean Libbey and Sexual Transformation
American Literary History and the Turn toward Modernity

Dale M. Bauer

University Press of Florida

In chapter 7, Dale Bauer charts the innovations in transitional modernism that turn-of-the-century popular novelist Laura Jean Libbey created in her novels devoted to women’s romance and independence. While little-known today, Libbey’s serialized novels were highly popular and often translated into film. Libbey’s fictions bridged the divide between late nineteenth-century feminism and modern fictions of the New Woman. These novels often end with immediate brain surgeries and near-instant recoveries, with marriages into higher social classes, with rivals for suitors defeated by these women’s pain and bitterness and their transcendence. Many of Libbey’s novels chart women’s social recovery from “brain fever” and brain traumatic injury through brain surgery. As they are almost-instantly transformed to “modern women,” they are often robbed of their resistance. Libbey’s fictions emphasize the uneven development of the New Woman across the century’s turn.

Keywords:   Laura Jean Libbey, modernism, serialized novels, feminism, New Woman, brain surgery, brain fever

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