The Politics of Place: Urban Feminism in the Late Works of Amy Levy
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Amy Levy can be seen as a poet of modernity, of the time of dramatic change that made itself felt particularly in Western European cities in the 1880s and 90s. Much of Levy’s work takes the city of London not only as its setting, but as its focus. In her works, she explores many issues that were beginning to affect the everyday lives and the ideas of people living in London at this time, including the place of women and Jewish people in society, and the place of people in this rapidly changing city. Though Levy’s status as a feminist and as an urban poet have been established, my thesis furthers this work by arguing that there is a connection between these two vectors of her identity. Levy’s politicization of female experiences and her discussion of urban modernity are inextricably linked. Levy politicizes the city of London by showing how it was or was not accessible to women. She explores how increased mobility could confer on women increased intellectual and emotional freedom. While Levy affirms that the urban environment was increasingly becoming a more liberating place for women, freeing them from the confining mores of the past, she also affirms that certain women are still confined within narrow spaces and mores even within the city. She identifies Jewish women, middle class women, and women who are both Jewish and middle class as particularly vulnerable to this kind of confinement.