Pens, Pickaxes, and Patriarchy

I often read the scholarship that constitutes new modernist studies wondering, as Virginia Woolf’s narrator did in A Room of One’s Own, whether the author “has a pen in [their] hand or a pickaxe.”[1] For Woolf, an attention to pens and pickaxes derives from her acute understanding of anger and its potential to transform an author’s writing.

Severed Tongues: Silencing Intellectual Women

In her essay “Silence,” in the original cluster, “Reading The Waste Land with the #MeToo Generation,” Nancy K. Gish adroitly theorizes the habit of silencing women, noting that “women are not simply individual images from many ancient texts but a series of the silenced.” This reminder of collective silencing resounded for me in profound ways—I am part of this series of the silenced—but I could not have predicted that the very cluster would be used to perpetuate further attempts at smothering women’s voices. In this connection, Christopher Ricks’s recent diatribe against Megan Quigley is both dismaying and revealing.