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Inventing the female self in Greenwich Village, 1900–1930: Mabel Dodge's encounter with science and spirituality

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Abstract

Through the case study of Mabel Dodge, the mystic of Greenwich Village, this article shows how new forms of knowledge and free love converged in a turn to interrogating the female self. Mabel Dodge's practice of subjectivity is an early twentieth-century example of what Michel Foucault called the ‘hermeneutics of the subject’, a form of spirituality grounded in the pursuit of the ‘truth’ of the self. Dodge's efforts to grasp her ‘secret concentrated essence’ reveal an early twentieth-century invention of a new feminist spirituality at the crossroads of occultism, social reform, and sciences of psychology and biology.

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Notes

  1. Mabel Dodge to Alexander Berkman, 1913–1914. Mabel Dodge Luhan Papers, Beinecke Library, Yale University.

  2. Mabel Dodge to Maurice Sterne, 1916. Maurice Sterne Papers, Beinecke, Yale.

  3. Maurice Sterne to Mabel Dodge, 31 July 1916. Mabel Dodge Luhan Papers, Beinecke, Yale.

  4. Mabel Dodge to Maurice Sterne, 1916. Maurice Sterne Papers, Beinecke, Yale.

  5. Mabel Dodge to Smith Ely Jelliffe, 4 January 1916. Mabel Dodge Luhan Papers, Beinecke, Yale.

  6. Mabel Dodge to Smith Ely Jelliffe, undated. Mabel Dodge Luhan Papers, Beinecke, Yale.

  7. Mabel Dodge to Neith Boyce, 10 July 1919. Hapgood Papers, Beinecke, Yale.

  8. Margaret Sanger to Mabel Dodge, 21 March 1925. Mabel Dodge Luhan Papers, Beinecke, Yale.

  9. Mabel Dodge to Neith Boyce, 25 June 1919. Hapgood Papers, Beinecke, Yale.

  10. Mabel Dodge to A.A. Brill, 3 July 1937. Mabel Dodge Luhan Collection (Edmund Brill Gifts), Beinecke, Yale.

  11. Mabel Dodge to Smith Ely Jelliffe, undated. Mabel Dodge Luhan Papers, Beinecke, Yale.

  12. Maurice Sterne to Mabel Dodge, 22 November 1917. Mabel Dodge Luhan Papers, Beinecke, Yale.

  13. Mabel Dodge to Maurice Sterne, 12 April 1917. Mabel Dodge Luhan Papers, Beinecke, Yale.

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Hustak, C. Inventing the female self in Greenwich Village, 1900–1930: Mabel Dodge's encounter with science and spirituality. Subjectivity 6, 173–192 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1057/sub.2013.4

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