"What means a frontier?": Nancy Cunard, feminist internationalism, and the Spanish Civil War

Eleanor Careless*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Existing accounts of British women writers and activists – from Sylvia Townsend Warner and Valentine Ackland to Nan Green – who supported the Republican struggle in the Spanish Civil War rightly redress the absence of these women from histories of that war. This chapter builds on these accounts but turns to the more obscure inter-relation between activist women writers of the thirties who rarely identified themselves as ‘feminist’ and the twentieth-century feminist movements that bracketed their activism. These feminist movements include both the suffrage movement and the ‘feminist avant-garde’ of the early twentieth century, and the Women’s Liberation Movement, and associated feminisms, of the 1970s and 1980s. With a focus on Nancy Cunard’s Spanish Civil War poetry, and her tireless reporting on the Spanish refugees held in French detention camps for Sylvia Pankhurst’s New Times, this chapter contextualises Cunard’s Spanish Civil War writing as part of a larger, internationalist and anti-colonial project and argues that her anti-fascist journalism and experimental poetry are part of a long tradition of feminist internationalism which stretches from the Edwardian feminist avant-garde to activist-poets such as Muriel Rukeyser and Anna Mendelssohn and the overtly feminist-internationalist reportage of 1980s periodicals such as Outwrite.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Companion to Literature and Feminism
EditorsRachel Carroll, Fiona Tolan
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781000991420, 9781003429951
ISBN (Print)9780367410261
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2023

Publication series

NameRoutledge Literature Companions

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