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Daria Kerschenbaum '21

ars nova, 2021

Major: Theatre (Playwriting) & English
Bio: Daria Kerschenbaum is a senior Theatre (Playwriting) and English double major. She was born and raised in Rockville, Maryland outside of Washington, DC. During her time at Fordham University, Daria produced three of her plays and collaborated on additional productions as a dramaturg. Her past research includes a study of London immersive theatre and sexual misconduct. In the UK, she also studied abroad at the University of Oxford. She plans to continue her work as a writer and researcher in NYC.

Title of Research: Miasma Motherhood: The Effects of the 1918 Influenza Pandemic on Mina Loy's Exploration of Femininity & Eugenics
Mentor: Dr. Shonni Enelow
Abstract: The following literature review examines how the 1918 influenza pandemic affected Mina Loy’s writing, particularly in its approach to feminism and eugenics. This topic focuses on three overlapping fields of inquiry: Mina Loy as a Futurist, deeply invested in the position of women within the movement’s ideology; the intersection between modernist literature and eugenics; and finally the influence of the 1918 pandemic. As a nurse in the Italian Red Cross and as a New York City resident in 1918, Mina Loy undoubtedly encountered the horrors of the influenza pandemic. We can trace connections to the pandemic through Loy’s fragmented style as well as the recurring theme of maternal mourning. The pandemic bolstered ideas of social Darwinism and this might explain the continued presence of eugenics ideology in her work after leaving the Futurist movement. Still, her relationship with ethnic and racial hygiene remains tangled and rife for academic exploration. My research is part of a growing field of literary studies focused on exploring the influence of the 1918 influenza pandemic on modernist literature. This literature review hopes to open new worlds of possibilities within Mina Loy’s body of work. I intend to build upon my findings in this literature review by examining Loy’s novel, Insel, and several of her poems in The Lost Lunar Baedeker through this pandemic framework.