CfP: Mary Butts: Feminist Reconstructions, book (deadline 15 June)

Mary Butts: Feminist Reconstructions

In the past couple of decades, much has been done to recover British modernist author Mary Butts (1890-1937).  Butts’s Collected Essays and unpublished novel Unborn Gods, forthcoming from McPherson & Co, attest to the ongoing nature of this project.  There is still much more to do, and much to explore in a body of work that plays between high modernist forms and more popular genres, a work that might be described as occult, Gothic, queer, proto-environmental, and feminist. Questions must be asked of Butts’s work and her position in the modernist canon, but also of the continued recovery and reconstruction of this important author.

This call for papers is for an invited proposal from Bloomsbury, who are looking to engage more fully with modernist women authors.  The proposed collection aims to be self-conscious and self-analytical of this engagement.

This call for papers invites proposals that respond, broadly, to the title “Feminist Reconstructions.”  We seek proposals for contributions to supplement confirmed essays from authors including Andrew Radford, Jane Garrity, and Stephen Ross.

Proposals might focus on any of Butts’s writing: novels, short stories, poetry, journals, essays, and letters, published and archival materials.  “Feminist recovery” should not limit what is explored but be a means to open up meaning and analysis.


Essays might in engage with (though are not limited to),

  • Contested sites of feminism in Butts work
  • Feminist modernisms
  • The need for a feminist recovery of the author.


Essays might engage with (but are not limited to),

  • Modernist “reconstructions” in an era of modernity
  • Questions of race, class, gender, sexuality
  • Environmentalism
  • The national and transnational
  • Butts’s literary “reconstructions” on the page
  • Ritualism, dance, performance in Butts’s writing
  • Butts as literary/cultural theorist
  • 21st century reconstructions of forgotten women modernists
  • The use of digital media in the pursuit of reconstruction, in an age of reconstruction
  • The future of Butts/women modernists/modernist studies

The collection aims to be a feminist engagement itself.  Rather than offer a traditional monograph of isolated arguments, we look to disrupt linearity and traditional forms of argument, which are often associated with patriarchal structures.  The collection will take its cue from the transnational artistic communities Butts moved within in the 1920s to create a non-linear exchange, a conversation between contributors.  To this end, authors will submit an essay of 7000 words, but will also later write a 2000-word response to another author’s essay, and be given the opportunity to read all other (completed) chapters so that they might reference these in their own work, to further a sense of conversation.  The book looks to be an assemblage of sorts, full of imaginative approaches to Butts’s work that collide with one another.  Experimentation is welcome.

Please email proposals of no more than 300 words, along with a brief biography, to the editor, Joel Hawkes, at by Monday 15 June, 2020.  (Final papers will be due January 2021)