Planes, Politics, and Protofeminist Poetics: Muriel Rukeyser’s “Theory of Flight” and The Middle of the Air

Lexi Rudnitsky
Vol. 27, No. 2 (Fall 2008), 237-257

In this essay, Muriel Rukeyser’s aeronautical writing reclaims its deserved place alongside other technological literature of the early twentieth century including works by H. G. Wells, W. H. Auden, William Faulkner, and F. T. Marinetti. This essay investigates the feminist implications of “Theory of Flight” (1935) against its contemporary critics and other aviation-interested cultural movements such as Futurism. Furthermore, this scholarship performs the valuable work of helping to rescue The Middle of the Air (1945) from obscurity to reexamine the way in which it dramatizes the struggle over what and how the airplane should signify, especially as it pertains to significations of gender.

Mary Wollstonecraft Sojourner Truth Margaret Atwood Abigail Adams Amy Tan H.D. Simone de Beauvoir Zora Neale Hurston Frances Burney Virginia Woolf

"The white saxifrage with the indented leafe is moste commended for the breakinge of the Stone."

— Turner, Herbal, III, 68 [1568]