This essay examines the fiction and nonfiction in the Birth Control Review (BCR), a magazine Margaret Sanger edited between 1917 and 1929, to reveal a critique of aesthetic autonomy at the intersection of modernism and feminist politics. In contrast to the aesthetic autonomy espoused by Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot, the narratives in BCR depict autonomy as a ghastly punishment rather than a goal to be achieved. Such a reading offers a framework for understanding why the dominant rhetoric of the American birth control movement shifted—within only a decade—from feminist revolution to patriarchal eugenics.
This article first appeared in Modern Fiction Studies, Volume 59, no. 2, 2013, pp. 440–460.
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