Images in Prose and Film: Modernist treatments of gender, education and early 20th century culture in Bryher’s Close Up essays, her volume Film Problems of Soviet Russia (1929), and her autobiographical fiction

Zlatina Nikolova

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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This thesis explores the thematic and stylistic patterns across the previously unexplored fiction and non-fiction work of the modernist author Bryher. More precisely, this study focuses on Bryher's three autobiographical novels: Development (1920), Two Selves (1923) and West (1925), and the film criticism she published in the film journal Close Up (1927-1933) and her volume Film Problems of Soviet Russia (1929).
Influenced by her experiences as a young woman at the turn of the twentieth century and World War I, Bryher formulated strong opinions on women's social status, education, and patriarchal society. These opinions and the style of prose that articulated these ideas in her novels translated into her film criticism and informed the author's understanding of the film medium and film art throughout the 1920s and 1930s. By placing Bryher's texts in the context of the modernist writing produced by others in her close circle, this thesis compares her work to the novels and film essays published by the Imagist poet H.D. and the novelist Dorothy Richardson. Thus, it highlights Bryher's crucial role as an editor of the film journal Close Up and challenges previous explorations' tendency to attach her ideas to the opinions about film articulated by other Close Up critics, such as her long-term companion H.D. or Close Up's chief editor, the Scottish artist Kenneth Macpherson.
Finally, this thesis's comparison between Bryher's novels and her film criticism traces the interpretation of these themes and the style of the author's prose across different genres and contexts. The variety of the texts' topics and registers expands Bryher's commentary of early twentieth-century society to early film culture and establishes her as a key figure of early British film criticism.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Townsend, Christopher, Supervisor
Award date1 Apr 2019
Publication statusUnpublished - 20 Sept 2018


  • Bryher
  • Close Up
  • POOL Group
  • H.D.
  • Film Problems of Soviet Russia

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