Institute of Modern Languages Research
'Would you like to sin with Elinor Glyn?' Romance, Fantasy, and Consumption in Popular Women's Fiction and FIlm of the 1920s
Dr Lise Sanders
(Hampshire College, Amherst)
Lise Shapiro Sanders (Hampshire College, Amherst) Lise Shapiro Sanders is the author of Consuming Fantasies: Labor, Leisure, and the London Shopgirl, 1880-1920 (2006) and co-editor of Embodied Utopias: Gender, Social Change, and the Modern Metropolis (2002). Her research and teaching interests include 19th- and early 20th-century British literature, print media/popular culture, film studies, and women's and gender studies. Sanders recently featured in BBC2's Shopgirls: The True Story of Life Behind the Counter in which she spoke about the life and work of Margaret Bondfield.
Elinor Glyn is perhaps best known for her sensational novel Three Weeks (1907), which tells the story of a young Englishman who has a three-week affair with a mysterious queen of an unspecified Balkan realm. The most scandalous scene of the novel depicts the seductive older woman, scantily clad, lying prone on a tiger skin, a scene that inspired everything from the doggerel verse from which the seminar title is taken to a censorship controversy over the film version, which was eventually released under the title The Romance of a Queen. Glyn moved to Hollywood in 1920, and over the next nine years took part in eleven productions, as screenwriter and consultant. Lise Sanders will discuss two of Glyn's films from this period, Beyond The Rocks (1922) and It (1927), both of which offer narratives invoking fantasies of romantic fulfilment. These fantasies highlight a stage-like, scenic quality of pleasure accomplished through a self-transformation that relies on costume, adornment, and display. Starring Gloria Swanson and Clara Bow respectively, these films also participate in an emergent fan-star culture associated with the pleasures of consumption.