Examination of British Modernist Patronage



Year of publication 2022
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description The presentation introduces my dissertation and my goal to provide the first systematic overview of patronage as a practice influencing and in some cases facilitating the creation of British modernist writing in the first three decades of the twentieth century. It follows Helleke van den Braber’s model of post-romantic patronage, examining all of its elements—the patron, the artist, the art, and the public—and the way they interact with each other. Besides mapping this relatively unknown area, my contribution lies in extending this model by including another element—space. This is considered both in its literal meaning (including the various salons, gardens, and drawing rooms which were the place for meeting, creating, and conducting business), as well as its metaphorical sense studied along the lines of Howard Becker’s art worlds. Essential for this thesis are also Pierre Bourdieu’s concepts of the field of cultural production and various capitals at one’s disposal since they allow for accounting of the complexity of exchanges that comprise patronage. Specific British modernist patrons, such as Ottoline Morrell, Ethel Sands and Sibyl Colefax and their relationships with the writers they supported, are used as examples to illustrate the elements discussed. A combination of archival, biographical, and qualitative sociological research is used to gain an understanding of the way all the parties included perceived the arrangements they were part of. Although interdisciplinary in its nature, the relevance of my research for the field of literary studies specifically lies in its contribution to understanding the conditions under which literary works are written, their value is influenced and notions of authorship and creative agency are problematised when a patron is involved.
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