Melanie Micir is assistant professor of English at Washington University in St. Louis. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in the Journal of Modern Literature, Modernism/Modernity, and several edited collections. She is finishing a book on queer feminist biographical acts and archives.
Melanie Micir; The Impossible Miss Woolf: Kate Atkinson and the Feminist Modernist Historical Novel. Modern Language Quarterly 1 December 2017; 78 (4): 517–538. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00267929-4198253
Reading Kate Atkinson’s Life after Life (2013) in the context of theories of the historical novel (Georg Lukács, Fredric Jameson) and counterfactual fiction (Catherine Gallagher, Andrew Miller, Paul Saint-Amour) sheds light on an overlooked genealogy of the feminist modernist historical novel. Atkinson’s novels are often cited as examples of postmodern metafiction, but in fact her work is more directly indebted to modernist experiments in counterfactual historical writing by figures like Virginia Woolf. Moreover, this inheritance, inasmuch as it informs Atkinson’s focus on the untold lives of ordinary women, is not only modernist but feminist.