The Action-Adventure Heroine: Rediscovering an American Literary Character, 1697–1895
University of Tennessee Press, 2018
Cloth: 978-1-62190-409-0 | Paper: 978-1-62190-580-6
Library of Congress Classification PS374.H47
Dewey Decimal Classification 810.93522
ABOUT THIS BOOK | REVIEWS | REQUEST ACCESSIBLE FILE
ABOUT THIS BOOK
Found in scores of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century American narratives, the action-adventure heroine leaves the domestic space to pursue an independent adventure. This bold heroine tramps alone through the forests, demonstrates tremendous physical strength, braves dangers without hesitation, enters the public realm to earn money, and even kills her enemies when necessary. Despite her transgressions of social norms, the narrator portrays this heroine in a positive light and lauds her for her bravery and daring. The Action-Adventure Heroine offers a wide-ranging look at this enigmatic character in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century American literature.
Unlike the “tomboy” or the American frontierswoman, this more encompassing figure has been understudied until now. The action-adventure heroine has special relevance today, as scholars are forcefully challenging the once-dominant separate-spheres paradigm and offering alternative interpretations of gender conventions in nineteenth-century America. The hard-body action heroine in our contemporary popular culture is often assumed to be largely a product of the twentieth-century television and film industries (and therefore influenced by the women’s movement); however, physically strong, agile, sometimes violent female figures have appeared in American popular culture and literature for a very long time.
Smith analyzes captivity narratives, war narratives, stories of manifest destiny, dime novels, and tales of seduction to reveal the long literary history of female protagonists who step into traditionally masculine heroic roles to win the day. Smith’s study includes such authors as Herman Mann, Mercy Otis Warren, Catharine Maria Sedgwick, E.D.E.N. Southworth, Edward L. Wheeler, and many more who are due for critical reassessment. In examining the female hero—with her strength, physicality, and violence—in eighteenth-and nineteenth-century American narratives, The Action-Adventure Heroine represents an important contribution to the field of American studies.
SANDRA WILSON SMITH is an assistant professor of English at Temple University. Her articles have appeared in the Journal of American Studies, Southern Literary Journal, and E-Learning.
See other books on: Adventure stories, American | Heroines in literature | Journalism | Rediscovering | Subjects & Themes
See other titles from University of Tennessee Press
Nearby on shelf for American literature / Prose / Prose fiction: