Collaborating with Ghosts to Inhabit the Body: Adapting Women's Literary Modernism to the Stage

Nina-Marie Gardner

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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The novels and short stories of the modernist women writers of the late 1920s and early 1930s were considered radical in their time, not just for the ways they experimented with language and narrative style, but also for their content. My thesis explores the challenges of adapting these novels to the stage, drawing upon my own adaptation of American modernist Margery Latimer’s novel This Is My Body (1930). My primary methodology is traditional scholarly research that has provided a framework for writing the play; my analysis of the play is the final focus. I argue that given the manner in which many of these narratives perform – specifically, modernist women’s autobiographical novels – adaptation is already built-in, such that adapting them to the stage becomes a process of highlighting and foregrounding what is already in place.
Chapter One considers the intersection of modernism and feminism, and traces the thread of feminism through the modernist movement, with a focus on the relationship between the women’s rights activists and the modernist women writers.
Chapter Two looks at the intersection of feminism and adaptation, with a focus on authorship, issues of fidelity and feminist adaptation strategies.
Chapter Three examines the intersection between modernism and adaptation from both a historical and ideological standpoint, with a focus on the contentious relationship between modernism and theatre, and the generative impact of this tension.
Chapter Four looks at the intersection of modernism, feminism and adaptation; specifically, how modernist women’s autobiographical narratives perform, which in turn lends them to the stage.
In order to examine my arguments in practice, I have included Portage Fancy, my own stage adaptation of Margery Latimer’s novel This Is My Body (1930), which is followed by an analysis.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Rebellato, Dan, Supervisor
  • Schafer, Elizabeth, Advisor
Award date1 Nov 2017
Publication statusUnpublished - 2017


  • modernism
  • feminism
  • adaptation
  • theatre

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