Shaw, Amber Nicole
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Mina Loy’s novel Insel weaves together the roles of poet and seamstress, and language and fashion. These juxtapositions bridge the divide between popular and high culture, and they also challenge traditional associations of the feminine and feminine or domestic arts with popular, less-valued culture. I argue that Loy’s interest in the traditionally ‘feminine’ domestic arts directly relates to her treatment of gender and the status of women in her writing. In Insel, Loy depicts the avant-garde community in which she lived and worked, and in doing so she challenges traditionally-accepted definitions of gender and artistic creation. Through sewing, writing, and painting, the narrator and Insel explore who can be the artist and who must remain a muse or vessel. Thus, by fusing the ‘feminine’ domestic art of sewing and fashion with the high art of avant-garde literature, Loy negotiates a new space for the modernist woman and the under-valued arts with which she is associated.