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‘savage warnings and notations’: The Women Charting New Sensory Terrains in the Wake of Intelligence Work

‘savage warnings and notations’: The Women Charting New Sensory Terrains in the Wake of... This article explores the extent to which creative work developed by a number of ex-intelligence operatives in the wake of war posited a total recalibration of sensation and the senses at midcentury. It will suggest that intelligence work, as well as the decades of discretion such work entailed, led to the estimation of a bewildering new sensory terrain. Was this a realm that could be, in the subversive potential of its sensory integration, uniquely inhabited by women artists and writers? How did they adapt to its new ‘savage warnings and notations’?1 It is an argument informed by the considerable scholarship on the modernist and midcentury sensorium and the impact of global conflict on the mind, body, environment and human senses, but lies askant from this in its focus on those emerging from the secretive spaces of the intelligence services. The three voices central to this discussion, Elizabeth Bowen, Christine Brooke-Rose, and Prunella Clough, are rarely considered within the same critical space, and yet all three place sensory intelligibility at the centre of their aesthetic endeavours in the years immediately following their service. Is their work in the wake of war testament to an elusive new form of address or agency for women writers; a ‘wireless voice’ – as Brooke-Rose conceives of it – that is capable of setting revolutionary new terms of encounter and coherence? http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Modernist Cultures Edinburgh University Press

‘savage warnings and notations’: The Women Charting New Sensory Terrains in the Wake of Intelligence Work

Modernist Cultures , Volume 16 (4): 22 – Nov 1, 2021

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Publisher
Edinburgh University Press
Copyright
Copyright © Edinburgh University Press
ISSN
2041-1022
eISSN
1753-8629
DOI
10.3366/mod.2021.0352
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This article explores the extent to which creative work developed by a number of ex-intelligence operatives in the wake of war posited a total recalibration of sensation and the senses at midcentury. It will suggest that intelligence work, as well as the decades of discretion such work entailed, led to the estimation of a bewildering new sensory terrain. Was this a realm that could be, in the subversive potential of its sensory integration, uniquely inhabited by women artists and writers? How did they adapt to its new ‘savage warnings and notations’?1 It is an argument informed by the considerable scholarship on the modernist and midcentury sensorium and the impact of global conflict on the mind, body, environment and human senses, but lies askant from this in its focus on those emerging from the secretive spaces of the intelligence services. The three voices central to this discussion, Elizabeth Bowen, Christine Brooke-Rose, and Prunella Clough, are rarely considered within the same critical space, and yet all three place sensory intelligibility at the centre of their aesthetic endeavours in the years immediately following their service. Is their work in the wake of war testament to an elusive new form of address or agency for women writers; a ‘wireless voice’ – as Brooke-Rose conceives of it – that is capable of setting revolutionary new terms of encounter and coherence?

Journal

Modernist CulturesEdinburgh University Press

Published: Nov 1, 2021

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