front cover of 5 Years of 4th Genre
5 Years of 4th Genre
Martha Bates
Michigan State University Press, 2006

In 1999, Michigan State University Press launched Fourth Genre: Explorations in Creative Nonfiction, a journal that began with and has maintained a devotion to publishing notable, innovative work in nonfiction. The title reflects an intent to give nonfiction its due as a literary genre—to give writers of the 'fourth genre' a showcase for their work and to give readers a place to find the liveliest and most creative works in the form. 
     Given the genre's flexibility and expansiveness, journal editors Michael Steinberg and David Cooper have welcomed a variety of works— ranging from personal essays and memoirs to literary journalism and personal criticism. The essays are lyrical, self-interrogative, meditative, and reflective, as well as expository, analytical, exploratory, or whimsical. In short, Fourth Genre encourages a writer- to-reader conversation, one that explores the markers and boundaries of literary/creative nonfiction. 
     Since its inaugural issue, contributors have earned many literary awards: 5 Notable Essays of the Year (Best American Essay); the Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Award; Notable Essay of the Year (Best American Travel Writing); and 4 Pushcart Prizes. Five Years of 4th Genre is a celebration of this significant literary journal. Culling a selection of some of the most creative of Fourth Genre’s first five years—the Pushcart winners are here, as well as those essays that are unique, those that tell us something new, those that startle us, and those that touch our hearts —this volume presents a representative sampling.

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Act Like You Know
African-American Autobiography and White Identity
Crispin Sartwell
University of Chicago Press, 1998
Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, W.E.B. DuBois, Zora Neale Hurston, Malcolm X—their words speak firmly, eloquently, personally of the impact of white America on the lives of African-Americans. Black autobiographical discourses, from the earliest slave narratives to the most contemporary urban raps, have each in their own way gauged and confronted the character of white society. For Crispin Sartwell, as philosopher, cultural critic, and white male, these texts, through their exacting insights and external perspective, provide a rare opportunity, a means of glimpsing and gaining access to contents and core of white identity.

There is, Sartwell contends, a fundamental elusiveness to that identity. Whiteness defines itself as normative, as a neutral form of the human condition, marking all other forms of identity as "racial" or "ethnic" deviations. Invisible to itself, white identity seeks to define its essence over and against those other identities, in effect defining itself through opposition and oppression. By maintaining fictions of black licentiousness, violence, and corruption, white identity is able to cast itself as humane, benevolent, and pure; the stereotype fabricates not only the oppressed but the oppressor as well. Sartwell argues that African-American autobiography perceives white identity from a particular and unique vantage point; one that is knowledgeable and intimate, yet fundamentally removed from the white world and thus unencumbered by its obfuscating claims to normativity.

Throughout this provocative work, Sartwell steadfastly recognizes the many ways in which he too is implicated in the formulation and perpetuation of racial attitudes and discourse. In Act Like You Know, he challenges both himself and others to take a long, hard look in the mirror of African-American autobiography, and to find there, in the light of those narratives, the visible features of white identity.
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American Autobiography after 9/11
Megan Brown
University of Wisconsin Press, 2017
In the wake of the 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States, American memoirists have wrestled with a wide range of anxieties in their books. They cope with financial crises, encounter difference, or confront norms of identity. Megan Brown contends that such best sellers as Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love, and Tucker Max’s I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell teach readers how to navigate a confusing, changing world.
            This lively and theoretically grounded book analyzes twenty-first-century memoirs from Three Cups of Tea to Fun Home, emphasizing the ways in which they reinforce and circulate ideologies, becoming guides or models for living. Brown expands her inquiry beyond books to the autobiographical narratives in reality television and political speeches. She offers a persuasive explanation for the memoir boom: the genre as a response to an era of uncertainty and struggle.
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American Autobiography
Retrospect And Prospect
Paul John Eakin
University of Wisconsin Press, 1991

The first four essays review the major historical periods of American autobiography, placing the classic texts of American autobiographical literature from Captain John Smith to Malcolm X in the illuminating context of lesser-known contemporary narratives.  Daniel B. Shea writes on colonial America, Lawrence Buell on the American Renaissance, Susanna Egan on the years after the Civil War, and Albert E. Stone on the twentieth century.
    The second part of American Autobiography  shows the diversity of voices, forms, audiences, and modes of identity in the literature of American autobiography.  Provocative essays by William Boelhower and Sau-Ling Cynthia Wong on immigrant autobiography discuss the changes in the sense of self that occur when strangers come to a strange land.  Arnold Krupat writes about how American Indians conceptualize the self and about the relationship between oral and written discourse.  William L. Andrews evaluates the strong body of critical theory that has grown up around African-American autobiography, showing how both the genre and its criticism have responded to contemporary historical pressures.  Carol Holly explores the model of personal identity that underlies nineteenth-century women’s autobiographies, and Blanche Gelfant examines the narrative and political strategies of Emma Goldman’s autobiography, especially her use of popular romance and melodrama. 
    The last essay offers a more personal perspective on contemporary autobiography:  a “dialogue” between Robert and Jane Coles about how they developed their method of eliciting first-person oral narratives for their famous Children of Crisis and Women of Crisis series.
    These essays raise  theoretical issues that are examined in Paul John Eakin’s incisive introduction:  How do we define a literary genre of protean shape and perplexing cultural multiplicity?  How do we approach the special problems created by documents that are both historical and literary texts, ones that pose difficult questions about truth and representation?  Most important, how is the canon of American autobiography to be constructed, and how is its history to be written?  Tracing that critical history, Eakin explains how changing ideas about “the mainstream” and “the marginal” have revitalized our retrospective view of American autobiography and opened up new and exciting prospects for today’s reader.

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The American Essay in the American Century
Ned Stuckey-French
University of Missouri Press, 2011
In modern culture, the essay is often considered an old-fashioned, unoriginal form of literary styling. The word essay brings to mind the uninspired five-paragraph theme taught in schools around the country or the antiquated, Edwardian meanderings of English gentlemen rattling on about art and old books. These connotations exist despite the fact that Americans have been reading and enjoying personal essays in popular magazines for decades, engaging with a multitude of ideas through this short-form means of expression.
 
To defend the essay—that misunderstood staple of first-year composition courses—Ned Stuckey-French has written The American Essay in the American Century. This book uncovers the buried history of the American personal essay and reveals how it played a significant role in twentieth-century cultural history.
 
In the early 1900s, writers and critics debated the “death of the essay,” claiming it was too traditional to survive the era’s growing commercialism, labeling it a bastion of British upper-class conventions. Yet in that period, the essay blossomed into a cultural force as a new group of writers composed essays that responded to the concerns of America’s expanding cosmopolitan readership. These essays would spark the “magazine revolution,” giving a fresh voice to the ascendant middle class of the young century.
 
With extensive research and a cultural context, Stuckey-French describes the many reasons essays grew in appeal and importance for Americans. He also explores the rise of E. B. White, considered by many the greatest American essayist of the first half of the twentieth century whose prowess was overshadowed by his success in other fields of writing. White’s work introduced a new voice, creating an American essay that melded seriousness and political resolve with humor and self-deprecation. This book is one of the first to consider and reflect on the contributions of E. B. White to the personal essay tradition and American culture more generally.
 
The American Essay in the American Century is a compelling, highly readable book that illuminates the history of a secretly beloved literary genre. A work that will appeal to fiction readers, scholars, and students alike, this book offers fundamental insight into modern American literary history and the intersections of literature, culture, and class through the personal essay. This thoroughly researched volume dismisses, once and for all, the “death of the essay,” proving that the essay will remain relevant for a very long time to come.
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Autistic Disturbances
Theorizing Autism Poetics from the DSM to Robinson Crusoe
Julia Miele Rodas
University of Michigan Press, 2018
While research on autism has sometimes focused on special talents or abilities, autism is typically characterized as impoverished or defective when it comes to language. Autistic Disturbances reveals the ways interpreters have failed to register the real creative valence of autistic language and offers a theoretical framework for understanding the distinctive aesthetics of autistic rhetoric and semiotics. Reinterpreting characteristic autistic verbal practices such as repetition in the context of a more widely respected literary canon, Julia Miele Rodas argues that autistic language is actually an essential part of mainstream literary aesthetics, visible in poetry by Walt Whitman and Gertrude Stein, in novels by Charlotte Brontë and Daniel Defoe, in life writing by Andy Warhol, and even in writing by figures from popular culture.

Autistic Disturbances pursues these resonances and explores the tensions of language and culture that lead to the classification of some verbal expression as disordered while other, similar expression enjoys prized status as literature. It identifies the most characteristic patterns of autistic expression-repetition, monologue, ejaculation, verbal ordering or list-making, and neologism-and adopts new language to describe and reimagine these categories in aesthetically productive terms. In so doing, the book seeks to redress the place of verbal autistic language, to argue for the value and complexity of autistic ways of speaking, and to invite recognition of an obscured tradition of literary autism at the very center of Anglo-American text culture.
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Black Women Writing Autobiography
A Tradition Within a Tradition
Joanne Braxton
Temple University Press, 1990
"In this illuminating study Joanne Braxton shows the continuity and tradition in the writing of Afra-American women. An important work for teachers and students of Literature, History, and Women's Studies." --Gerda Lerner "As black American women, we are born into a mystic sisterhood, and we live our lives within a magic circle, a realm of shared language, reference, and allusion within the veil of our blackness and our femaleness. We have been as invisible to the dominant culture as rain; we have been knowers, but we have not been known." Joanne Braxton argues for a redefinition of the genre of black American autobiography to include the images of women as well as their memoirs, reminiscences, diaries, and journals--as a corrective to both black and feminist literary criticism. Beginning with slave narratives and concluding with modern autobiography, she deals with individual works as representing stages in a continuum and situates these works in the context of other writings by both black and white writers. Braxton demonstrates that the criteria used to define the slave narrative genre are inadequate for analyzing Harriet "Linda Brent" Jacobs's pseudonymously published Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl: Written by Herself (1861). She examines "sass" as a mode of women's discourse and a weapon of self-defense, and she introduces the "outraged mother" as a parallel to the articulate hero archetype. Not even emancipation authorized black women to define themselves or address an audience. Late-nineteenth-century accounts in the form of confessional spiritual autobiographies, travelogue/adventure stories, and slave memoirs enabled such women as Jarena Lee, Rebecca Cox Jackson, Elizabeth Keckley, Susie King Taylor, as well as Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth to tell their own extraordinary stories and to shed light on the thousands of lives obscured by illiteracy and sexual and racial oppression. In her diaries, Charlotte Forten Grimké, the gifted poet, epitomizes the problems faced by a well-educated, extremely articulate black woman attempting to find a public voice in America. Moving into the twentieth century, Braxton analyzes the memoir of Ida B. Wells, journalist and anti-lynching activist, and the work of Zora Neale Hurston and Era Bell Thompson. They represent the first generation of black female autobiographers who did not continually come into contact with former slaves and who transcended the essential struggle for survival that occupied earlier writings. For the contemporary black woman autobiographer, the quest for personal fulfillment is the central theme. Braxton concludes with Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1996), which represents the black woman of the 1960s who has found the place to recreate the self in her own image--the place all the others had been searching for. "Braxton's book is scrupulously researched. She has been creative in finding resources and courageous in analyzing and interpreting her finds. This is the word of a diligent mind. The material is mountainous, yet the book sings. Braxton is a poet. Thank goodness." --Maya Angelou "Joanne Braxton's essays on black women's autobiographies delineate and illuminate the personal and historical dimension of an important literary tradition. Emphasizing the distinct character of Afra-American women's experience and relations with each other, she ground their writing of their lives in the struggles and triumphs of the lives they actually led." --Elizabeth Fox-Genovese "In this compelling and lucid study examining the content, context, and continuum of black women autobiographers, Braxton clears the place for it in the curriculum: at the center of black and feminist studies." --Paula Giddings "This is the fullest and most sympathetic study of black American autobiographers I know. By paying close attention to private and public history, to social networks and literary kinships, to narrative structures and patterns of imagery, Braxton leads her readers to see the black woman 'at the center of her own [written] experiences.' At once scholarly and passionate, Braxton's critique will immediately secure her a place among the leading analysts of black American autobiography." --Albert E. Stone "A highly readable and original contribution to the important fields of Afro-American studies, feminist criticism, and autobiographical narrative." --Elaine Showalter "Rich in empathy and insight, Joanne M. Braxton's trailblazing study attends to both the textual and historical dimensions of a powerful literary inheritance. She brings to bear a keen sense of the departures and continuities of which any tradition consists; and an appreciation of the distinctive Afro-American dynamic between literary convention and a vernacular substrate. Braxton doesn't just read--she listens." --Henry Louis Gates, Jr. "Joanne Braxton makes a unique contribution to the scholarship of American autobiography. Her focus on the outraged mother as a figure of rebellion is a significant challenge to our conventional understanding of autobiographical acts." --Hazel Carby "This is the most inclusive and thoughtful literary history of black American women's autobiography in existence…It is not just a collection of essays; it is well knit together and displays multiple traditions as they evolved and are in the process of evolving still." --William L. Andrews "This book marks another milestone in the critical appraisal of American autobiographical writings. In tracing the evolution of a tradition of black women in autobiography in America, Braxton takes us on the first journey of this kind: the black American woman's search for a dignified, self-defining identity through the rejection of traditional female roles. This book sets the tone for future studies of black women's autobiographies." --Nellie McKay
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Bound and Determined
Captivity, Culture-Crossing, and White Womanhood from Mary Rowlandson to Patty Hearst
Christopher Castiglia
University of Chicago Press, 1996
In Bound and Determined, Christopher Castiglia gives shape for the first time to a tradition of American women's captivity narrative that ranges across three centuries, from Puritan colonist Mary Rowlandson's abduction by Narragansett Indians to Patty Hearst's kidnapping by the Symbionese Liberation Army.

Examining more than sixty accounts by women captives, as well as novels ranging from Susanna Rowson's eighteenth-century classic Rueben and Rachel to today's mass-market romances, Castiglia investigates paradoxes central to the genre. In captivity, women often find freedom from stereotypical roles as helpless, dependent, sexually vulnerable, and xenophobic. In their condemnations of their non-white captors, they defy assumptions about race that undergird their own societies. Castiglia questions critical conceptions of captivity stories as primarily an appeal to racism and misogyny, and instead finds in them an appeal of a much different nature: as all-too-rare stories of imaginative challenges to rigid gender roles and racial ideologies.

Whether the women of these stories resist or escape captivity, endure until they are released, or eventually choose to live among their captors, they end up with the power to be critical of both cultures. Castiglia shows that these compelling narratives, with their boundary crossings and persistent explorations of cultural divisions and differences, have significant implications for current critical investigations into the construction of gender, race, and nation.
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Building Their Own Waldos
Emerson’s First Biographers and the Politics of Life-Writing in the Gilded Age
Robert D. Habich
University of Iowa Press, 2011

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By the end of the nineteenth century, Ralph Waldo Emerson was well on his way to becoming the “Wisest American” and the “Sage of Concord,” a literary celebrity and a national icon. With that fame came what Robert Habich describes as a blandly sanctified version of Emerson held widely by the reading public. Building Their Own Waldos sets out to understand the dilemma faced by Emerson’s early biographers: how to represent a figure whose subversive individualism had been eclipsed by his celebrity, making him less a representative of his age than a caricature of it.

Drawing on never-before-published letters, diaries, drafts, business records, and private documents, Habich Emerson’s First Biographers explores the making of a cultural hero through the stories of Emerson’s first biographers—George Willis Cooke, a minister most recently from Indianapolis who considered himself a disciple; the English reformer and newspaper mogul Alexander Ireland, a friend for half a century; Moncure D. Conway, a Southern abolitionist then residing in London, who called Emerson his “spiritual father and intellectual teacher”; the poet and medical professor Oliver Wendell Holmes, with Emerson a member of Boston’s gathering of literary elite, the Saturday Club; James Elliot Cabot, the family’s authorized biographer, an architect and amateur philosopher with unlimited access to Emerson’s unpublished papers; and Emerson’s son Edward, a physician and painter whose father had passed over him as literary executor in favor of Cabot.

Just as their biographies reveal a complex, socially engaged Emerson, so too do the biographers’ own stories illustrate the real-world perils, challenges, and motives of life-writing in the late nineteenth century, when biographers were routinely vilified as ghoulish and disreputable and biography as a genre underwent a profound redefinition. Building Their Own Waldos is at once a revealing look at Emerson’s constructed reputation, a case study in the rewards and dangers of Victorian life-writing, and the story of six authors struggling amidst personal misfortunes and shifting expectations to capture the elusive character of America’s “representative man,” as they knew him and as they needed him to be.

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Crossing the Line
Racial Passing in Twentieth-Century U.S. Literature and Culture
Gayle Wald
Duke University Press, 2000
As W. E. B. DuBois famously prophesied in The Souls of Black Folk, the fiction of the color line has been of urgent concern in defining a certain twentieth-century U.S. racial “order.” Yet the very arbitrariness of this line also gives rise to opportunities for racial “passing,” a practice through which subjects appropriate the terms of racial discourse. To erode race’s authority, Gayle Wald argues, we must understand how race defines and yet fails to represent identity. She thus uses cultural narratives of passing to illuminate both the contradictions of race and the deployment of such contradictions for a variety of needs, interests, and desires.
Wald begins her reading of twentieth-century passing narratives by analyzing works by African American writers James Weldon Johnson, Jessie Fauset, and Nella Larsen, showing how they use the “passing plot” to explore the negotiation of identity, agency, and freedom within the context of their protagonists' restricted choices. She then examines the 1946 autobiography Really the Blues, which details the transformation of Milton Mesirow, middle-class son of Russian-Jewish immigrants, into Mezz Mezzrow, jazz musician and self-described “voluntary Negro.” Turning to the 1949 films Pinky and
Lost Boundaries, which imagine African American citizenship within class-specific protocols of race and gender, she interrogates the complicated representation of racial passing in a visual medium. Her investigation of “post-passing” testimonials in postwar African American magazines, which strove to foster black consumerism while constructing “positive” images of black achievement and affluence in the postwar years, focuses on neglected texts within the archives of black popular culture. Finally, after a look at liberal contradictions of John Howard Griffin’s 1961 auto-ethnography Black Like Me, Wald concludes with an epilogue that considers the idea of passing in the context of the recent discourse of “color blindness.”
Wald’s analysis of the moral, political, and theoretical dimensions of racial passing makes Crossing the Line important reading as we approach the twenty-first century. Her engaging and dynamic book will be of particular interest to scholars of American studies, African American studies, cultural studies, and literary criticism.

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Disforming The American Canon
African-Arabic Slave Narratives and the Vernacular
Ronald A.T. Judy
University of Minnesota Press, 1993

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The Disobedient Writer
Women and Narrative Tradition
By Nancy A. Walker
University of Texas Press, 1995

For centuries, women who aspired to write had to enter a largely male literary tradition that offered few, if any, literary forms in which to express their perspectives on lived experience. Since the nineteenth century, however, women writers and readers have been producing "disobedient" counter-narratives that, while clearly making reference to the original texts, overturn their basic assumptions.

This book looks at both canonical and non-canonical works, over a variety of fiction and nonfiction genres, that offer counter-readings of familiar Western narratives. Nancy Walker begins by probing women's revisions of two narrative traditions pervasive in Western culture: the biblical story of Adam and Eve, and the traditional fairy tales that have served as paradigms of women's behavior and expectations. She goes on to examine the works of a wide range of writers, from contemporaries Marilynne Robinson, Ursula Le Guin, Anne Sexton, Fay Weldon, Angela Carter, and Margaret Atwood to precursors Caroline Kirkland, Fanny Fern, Mary De Morgan, Mary Louisa Molesworth, Edith Nesbit, and Evelyn Sharp.

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The Divided States
Unraveling National Identities in the Twenty-First Century
Edited by Laura J. Beard and Ricia Anne Chansky
University of Wisconsin Press, 2023
What is an “American” identity? The tension between populism and pluralism, between homogeneity and heterogeneity, has marked the United States since its inception. In The Divided States, leading scholars and critics argue that the US is, and has always been, a site where multiple national identities intersect in productive and challenging ways. Scrutinizing conflicting nationalisms and national identities, the authors ask, Whose stories get told and whose do not? Who or what promotes the idea of a unified national identity in the United States? How is the notion of a unified national identity disrupted? What myths and stories bind the US together? How representative are these stories? What are the counternarratives? And, if the idea of national homogeneity is a fallacy, what does tie us together as a nation?

Working across auto/biography studies, American studies, and human geography—all of which deal with the current interest in competing narratives, “alternative facts,” and accountability—the essays engage in and contribute to critical conversations in classrooms, scholarship, and the public sphere. The authors draw from a variety of fields, including anthropology; class analysis; critical race theory; diasporic, refugee, and immigration studies; disability studies; gender studies; graphic and comix studies; Indigenous studies; linguistics; literary studies; sociology; and visual culture. And the genres under scrutiny include diary, epistolary communication, digital narratives, graphic narratives, literary narratives, medical narratives, memoir, oral history, and testimony.

This fresh and theoretically engaged volume will be relevant to anyone interested in the multiplicity of voices that make up the US national narrative.
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"Doers of the Word"
African-American Women Speakers and Writers in the North (1830-1880)
Peterson, Carla L
Rutgers University Press, 1998
Adapting a verse from the Epistle of James —"doers of the word"— nineteenth-century black women activists Sojourner Truth, Jarena Lee, and Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, among others, travelled throughout the Northeastern, Mid-Atlantic, and Midwestern regions of the United States. They preached, lectured, and wrote on issues of religious evangelicism, abolition, racial uplift, moral reform, temperance, and women's rights, thereby defining themselves as public intellectuals. 

In situating these women within the emerging African-American urban communities of the free North, Doers of the Word provides an important counterweight to the vast scholarship on Southern slavery and argues that black "Civil Rights movements" cannot be seen as a purely modern phenomenon. In particular, the book examines the ways in which this Northern black population, despite its heterogeneity, came together and established social organizations that would facilitate community empowerment; yet Peterson's analysis also acknowledges, and seeks to explain, the highly complex relationship of black women to these institutions, a relationship that rendered their stance as public intellectuals all the more bold and defiant.

Peterson begins her study in the 1830s, when a substantial body of oratory and writing by black women first emerged, and traces the development of this writing through the shifting political climate up to the end of Reconstruction. She builds her analyses upon Foucault's interdisciplinary model of discourse with an explicitly feminist approach, drawing upon sermons, spiritual autobiographies, travel and slave narratives, journalism, essays, poetry, speeches, and fiction. From these, Peterson is able to answer several key questions. First, what empowered these women to act, to speak out, and to write? Why, and in what ways, were they marginalized within both the African-American and larger American communities? Where did they act, speak, and write from?
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Dying in Character
Memoirs on the End of Life
Jeffrey Berman
University of Massachusetts Press, 2012
In the past twenty years, an increasing number of authors have written memoirs focusing on the last stage of their lives: Elizabeth Kübler-Ross, for example, in The Wheel of Life, Harold Brodkey in This Wild Darkness, Edward Said in Out of Place, and Tony Judt in The Memory Chalet. In these and other end-of-life memoirs, writers not only confront their own mortality but in most cases struggle to "die in character"—that is, to affirm the values, beliefs, and goals that have characterized their lives.

Examining the works cited above, as well as memoirs by Mitch Albom, Roland Barthes, Jean-Dominique Bauby, Art Buchwald, Randy Pausch, David Rieff, Philip Roth, and Morrie Schwartz, Jeffrey Berman's analysis of this growing genre yields some surprising insights. While the authors have much to say about the loneliness and pain of dying, many also convey joy, fulfillment, and gratitude. Harold Brodkey is willing to die as long as his writings survive. Art Buchwald and Randy Pausch both use the word fun to describe their dying experiences. Dying was not fun for Morrie Schwartz and Tony Judt, but they reveal courage, satisfaction, and fearlessness during the final stage of their lives, when they are nearly paralyzed by their illnesses.

It is hard to imagine that these writers could feel so upbeat in their situations, but their memoirs are authentically affirmative. They see death coming, yet they remain stalwart and focused on their writing. Berman concludes that the contemporary end-of-life memoir can thus be understood as a new form of death ritual, "a secular example of the long tradition of ars moriendi, the art of dying."
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The Emperor’s New Clothes
Literature, Literacy, and the Ideology of Style
Kathryn T. Flannery
University of Pittsburgh Press, 1995
Since the Renaissance, what has been considered the “best” style of writing has always been connected with the dominant cultural agenda of the time. In this book, Kathryn Flannery offers a demystifying perspective on theorists who have argued for an essential distinction between “content” and “style,” and focuses on the importance of understanding written prose style as a cultural asset. She addresses the development of prose criticism, the evolution of English teaching, the history of Francis Bacon and Richard Hooker's writing, and a modern discourse on stylistics.
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Entitled to the Pedestal
Place, Race, and Progress in White Southern Women's Writing,1920-1945
Nghana tamu Lewis
University of Iowa Press, 2007

In this searching study, Nghana Lewis offers a close reading of the works and private correspondences, essays, and lectures of five southern white women writers: Julia Peterkin, Gwen Bristow, Caroline Gordon, Willa Cather, and Lillian Smith. At the core of this work is a sophisticated reexamination of the myth of southern white womanhood.

Lewis overturns the conventional argument that white women were passive and pedestal-bound. Instead, she argues that these figures were complicit in the day-to-day dynamics of power and authorship and stood to gain much from these arrangements at the expense of others.

At the same time that her examination of southern mythology explodes received wisdom, it is also a journey of self-discovery. As Lewis writes in her preface, “As a proud daughter of the South, I have always been acutely aware of the region’s rich cultural heritage, folks, and foodstuffs. How could I not be? I was born and reared in Lafayette, Louisiana, where an infant’s first words are not ‘da-da’ and ‘ma-ma’ but ‘crawfish boil’ and ‘fais-do-do.’ . . . I have also always been keenly familiar with its volatile history.” Where these conflicting images—and specifically the role of white southern women as catalysts, vindicators, abettors, and antagonists—meet forms the crux of this study. As such, this study of the South by a daughter of the South offers a distinctive perspective that illuminates the texts in novel and provocative ways.

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Faithful Transgressions In The American West
Six Twentieth-Century Mormon Women's Autobiographical Acts
Laura L. Bush
Utah State University Press, 2004

The central issue Bush finds in these works is how their authors have dealt with the authority of Mormon Church leaders. As she puts it in her preface, "I use the phrase 'faithful transgression' to describe moments in the texts when each writer, explicitly or implicitly, commits herself in writing to trust her own ideas and authority over official religious authority while also conceiving of and depicting herself to be a 'faithful' member of the Church." Bush recognizes her book as her own act of faithful transgression. Writing it involved wrestling, she states, "with my own deeply ingrained religious beliefs and my equally compelling education in feminist theories that mean to liberate and empower women."

Faithful Transgressions examines a remarkable group of authors and their highly readable and entertaining books. In producing the first significant book-length study of Mormon women's autobiographical writing, Bush rides a wave of memoir publishing and academic interest in autobiography and other life narratives. As she elucidates these works in relation to the religious tradition that played a major role in shaping them, she not only positions them in relation to feminist theory and current work on women's life writings but ties them to the long literary tradition of spiritual autobiography.

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"The Female Marine" and Related Works
Narratives of Cross-Dressing and Urban Vice in America's Early Republic
Daniel A. Cohen
University of Massachusetts Press, 1998
This is the first complete modern edition of The Female Marine, a fictional cross-dressing trilogy originally published between 1815 and 1818. Enormously popular among New England readers, the tale in various versions appeared in no fewer than nineteen editions over that brief four-year span. This new edition appends three other contemporary accounts of cross-dressing and urban vice which, together with The Female Marine, provide a unique portrayal of prostitution and interracial city life in early-nineteenth-century America.

The alternately racy and moralistic narrative recounts the adventures of a young woman from rural Massachusetts who is seduced by a false-hearted lover, flees to Boston, and is entrapped in a brothel. She eventually escapes by disguising herself as a man and serves with distinction on board the U.S. frigate Constitution during the War of 1812. After subsequent onshore adventures in and out of male dress, she is happily married to a wealthy New York gentleman.

In his introduction, Daniel A. Cohen situates the story in both its literary and historical contexts. He explains how the tale draws upon a number of popular Anglo-American literary genres, including the female warrior narrative, the sentimental novel, and the urban exposé. He then explores how The Female Marine reflects early-nineteenth-century anxieties concerning changing gender norms, the expansion of urban prostitution, the growth of Boston's African American community, and feelings of guilt aroused by New England's notoriously unpatriotic activities during the War of 1812.
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Fresh Water
Women Writing on the Great Lakes
Alison Swan
Michigan State University Press, 2006

Fresh Water: Women Writing on the Great Lakes is a collection of nonfiction works by women writers. These works focus on the Midwest: living with the five interconnected freshwater seas that we know as the Great Lakes. Contributing to this collection are renowned poets, essayists, and fiction writers, all of whom write about their own creative streams of consciousness, the fresh waters of the Great Lakes, and the region's many rivers: Loraine Anderson, Judith Arcana, Rachel Azima, Mary Blocksma, Gayle Boss, Sharon Dilworth, Beth Ann Fennelly, Linda Nemec Foster, Gail Griffin, Rasma Haidri, Aleta Karstad, Laura Kasischke, Janet Kauffman, Jacqueline Kolosov, Susan Laidlaw, Lisa Lenzo, Linda Loomis, Anna Mills, Stephanie Mills, Judith Minty, Anne-Marie Oomen, Rachael Perry, Susan Power, Donna Seaman, Heather Sellers, Gail Louise Siegel, Sue William Silverman,Claudia Skutar, Annick Smith, Leslie Stainton, Kathleen Stocking, Judith Strasser, Alison Swan, Elizabeth A.Trembley, Jane Urquhart, Diane Wakoski, and Leigh Allison Wilson.

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From Behind the Veil
A STUDY OF AFRO-AMERICAN NARRATIVE
Robert B. Stepto
University of Illinois Press, 1991
This pioneering study of Afro-American narrative is far more critical, historical, and textual than biographical, chronological, and atextual. Robert Stepto asserts that Afro-American culture has its store of canonical stories or pregeneric myths, the primary one being the quest for freedom and literacy. This second edition includes a new preface and an afterward entitled "Distrust of the Reader in Afro-American Narratives."
 
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The Frontiers of Women's Writing
Women's Narratives and the Rhetoric of Westward Expansion
Brigitte Georgi-Findlay
University of Arizona Press, 1996
Although the myth of the American frontier is largely the product of writings by men, a substantial body of writings by women exists that casts the era of western expansion in a different light. In this study of American women's writings about the West between 1830 and 1930, a European scholar provides a reconstruction and new vision of frontier narrative from a perspective that has frequently been overlooked or taken for granted in discussions of the frontier.

Brigitte Georgi-Findlay presents a range of writings that reflects the diversity of the western experience. Beginning with the narratives of Caroline Kirkland and other women of the early frontier, she reviews the diaries of the overland trails; letters and journals of the wives of army officers during the Indian wars; professional writings, focusing largely on travel, by women such as Caroline Leighton from the regional publishing cultures that emerged in the Far West during the last quarter of the century; and late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century accounts of missionaries and teachers on Indian reservations. Most of the writers were white, literate women who asserted their own kind of cultural authority over the lands and people they encountered. Their accounts are not only set in relation to a masculine frontier myth but also investigated for clues about their own involvement with territorial expansion. By exploring the various ways in which women writers actively contributed to and at times rejected the development of a national narrative of territorial expansion based on empire building and colonization, the author shows how their accounts are implicated in expansionist processes at the same time that they formulate positions of innocence and detachment.

Georgi-Findlay has drawn on American studies scholarship, feminist criticism, and studies of colonial discourse to examine the strategies of women's representation in writing about the West in ways that most theorists have not. She critiques generally accepted stereotypes and assumptions--both about women's writing and its difference of view in particular, and about frontier discourse and the rhetoric of westward expansion in general--as she offers a significant contribution to literary studies of the West that will challenge scholars across a wide range of disciplines.
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Imagining Rhetoric
Composing Women of the Early United States
Janet Carey Eldred
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2002

Imagining Rhetoric examines how women’s writing developed in the decades between the American Revolution and the Civil War, and how women imagined using their education to further the civic aims of an idealistic new nation.

In the late eighteenth century, proponents of female education in the United States appropriated the language of the Revolution to advance the cause of women’s literacy. Schooling for women—along with abolition, suffrage, and temperance—became one of the four primary arenas of nineteenth-century women’s activism. Following the Revolution, textbooks and fictions about schooling materialized that revealed ideal curricula for women covering subjects from botany and chemistry to rhetoric and composition. A few short decades later, such curricula and hopes for female civic rhetoric changed under the pressure of threatened disunion.

Using a variety of texts, including novels, textbooks, letters, diaries, and memoirs, Janet Carey Eldred and Peter Mortensen chart the shifting ideas about how women should learn and use writing, from the early days of the republic through the antebellum years. They also reveal how these models shaped women’s awareness of female civic rhetoric—both its possibilities and limitations.

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The In-Betweens
A Lyrical Memoir
Davon Loeb
West Virginia University Press, 2023

“Utterly captivating and resonant.” —Chicago Review of Books
“Gorgeously told.” —Philadelphia Inquirer

“Resonant. . . . Engagingly delivered, candid reflections on heritage and identity.” —Kirkus Reviews

The In-Betweens tells the story of a biracial boy becoming a man, all the while trying to find himself, trying to come to terms with his white family, and trying to find his place in American society. A rich narrative in the tradition of Justin Torres’s We the Animals and Bryan Washington’s Memorial, Davon Loeb’s memoir is relevant to the country’s current climate and is part of the necessary rewrite of the nation’s narrative and identity.

The son of a Black mother with deep family roots in Alabama and a white Jewish man from Long Island, Loeb grows up in a Black family in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey as one of the few nonwhite children in their suburban neighborhood. Despite his many and ongoing efforts to fit in, Loeb acutely feels his difference—he is singled out in class during Black History Month; his hair doesn’t conform to the latest fad; coaches and peers assume he is a talented athlete and dancer; and on the field trip to the Holocaust Museum, he is the Black Jew. But all is not struggle. In lyrical vignettes, Loeb vibrantly depicts the freedom, joys, and wonder of childhood; the awkwardness of teen years, first jobs, first passions. Loeb tells an individual story universally, and readers, regardless of subjectivity and relation, will see themselves throughout The In-Betweens.

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The Insistent Call
Rhetorical Moments in Black Anticolonialism, 1929-1937
Aric Putnam
University of Massachusetts Press, 2012
Throughout the nineteenth century, African heritage played an important role in black America, as personal memories and cultural practices continued to shape the everyday experience of people of African descent living under the shadow of slavery. Resisting efforts to de-Africanize their values, customs, and beliefs, black Americans invoked their African roots in public arguments about their identity and place in the "new" world. At the outset of the twentieth century many still saw Africa primarily as the source of a common cultural and spiritual past. But after the 1920s, the meaning of African heritage changed as people of African descent expressed new relationships between themselves, the United States, and the African Diaspora.

In The Insistent Call, Aric Putnam studies the rhetoric of newspapers, literature, and political pamphlets that expressed this shift. He demonstrates that as people of African descent debated the United States' occupation of Haiti, the Liberian labor crisis, and the Italian invasion of Ethiopia, they formed a new collective identity, one that understood the African Diaspora in primarily political rather than cultural terms. In addition to uncovering a neglected period in the history of black rhetoric, Putnam shows how rhetoric that articulates the interests of a population not defined by the boundaries of a state can still motivate collective action and influence policies.
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Irish-American Autobiography
James Silas Rogers
Catholic University of America Press, 2016
Irish-American Autobiography opens a new window on the shifting meanings of Irishness over the twentieth century, by looking at a range of works that have never before been considered as a distinct body of literature. Opening with celebrity memoirs from athletes like boxer John L. Sullivan and ballplayer Connie Mack - written when the Irish were eager to put their raffish origins behind them - later chapters trace the many tensions, often unspoken, registered by Irish Americans who've told their life stories. New York saloonkeepers and South Boston step dancers set themselves against the larger culture, setting a pattern of being on the outside looking in. Even the classic 1950s TV comedy The Honeymooners speaks to the urban Irish origins, and the poignant sense of exclusion felt by its creator Jackie Gleason. Catholicism, so key to the identity of earlier generations of Irish Americans, has also evolved. One chapter looks at the painful diffidence of priest autobiographers, and others reveal how traditional Irish Catholic ideas of the guardian angel and pilgrimage have evolved and stayed potent down to our own time. Irish-American Autobiography becomes, in the end, a story of a continued search for connection - documenting an "ethnic fade" that never quite happened.
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Kindred Hands
Letters on Writing by British and American Women Authors, 1865-1935
Jennifer Cognard-Black
University of Iowa Press, 2006
Kindred Hands, a collection of previously unpublished letters by women writers, explores the act and art of writing from diverse perspectives and experiences. The letters illuminate such issues as authorship, aesthetics, collaboration, inspiration, and authorial intent. By focusing on letters that deal with authorship, the editors reveal a multiplicity of perspectives on female authorship that would otherwise require visits to archives and special collections.

Representing some of the most important female writers of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, including transatlantic correspondents, women of color, canonical writers, regional writers, and women living in the British empire, Kindred Hands will enliven scholarship on a host of topics, including reception theory, feminist studies, social history, composition theory, modernism, and nineteenth-century studies. Moreover, because it represents previously unpublished primary sources, the collection will initiate new discussions on race, class, sexuality, ethnicity, and gender with an eye to writing at the turn of the twentieth century.
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Literary Journalism in the Twentieth Century
Norman Sims
Northwestern University Press, 2008

This wide-ranging collection of critical essays on literary journalism addresses the shifting border between fiction and non-fiction, literature and journalism.

Literary Journalism in the Twentieth Century addresses general and historical issues, explores questions of authorial intent and the status of the territory between literature and journalism, and offers a case study of Mary McCarthy’s 1953 piece, "Artists in Uniform," a classic of literary journalism.

Sims offers a thought-provoking study of the nature of perception and the truth, as well as issues facing journalism today.

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A Literature of Questions
Nonfiction for the Critical Child
Joe Sutliff Sanders
University of Minnesota Press, 2018

Nonfiction books for children—from biographies and historical accounts of communities and events to works on science and social justice—have traditionally been most highly valued by educators and parents for their factual accuracy. This approach, however, misses an opportunity for young readers to participate in the generation and testing of information. 

In A Literature of Questions, Joe Sutliff Sanders offers an innovative theoretical approach to children’s nonfiction that goes beyond an assessment of a work’s veracity to develop a book’s equivocation as a basis for interpretation. Addressing how such works are either vulnerable or resistant to critical engagement, Sanders pays special attention to the attributes that nonfiction shares with other forms of literature, including voice and character, and those that play a special role in the genre, such as peritexts and photography. 

The first book-length work to theorize children’s nonfiction as nonfiction from a literary perspective, A Literature of Questions carefully explains how the genre speaks in unique ways to its young readers and how it invites them to the project of understanding. At the same time, it clearly lays out a series of techniques for analysis, which it then applies and nuances through extensive close readings and case studies of books published over the past half century, including recent award-winning books such as Tanya Lee Stone’s Almost Astronauts: Thirteen Women Who Dared to Dream and We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball by Kadir Nelson. By looking at a text’s willingness or reluctance to let children interrogate its information and ideological context, Sanders reveals how nonfiction can make young readers part of the project of learning rather than passive recipients of information.

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Mediating American Autobiography
Photography in Emerson, Thoreau, Douglass, and Whitman
Sean Ross Meehan
University of Missouri Press, 2008

The emergence of photography in the mid-nineteenth century transformed ideas about how the self and nature could be pictured. Although the autobiographical potential of photography seems self-evident today, Sean Meehan takes us back to the birth of the medium when some of America’s preeminent authors began to think about photography’s implications for the representation of identity and the nature of autobiographical writing.

Both photography and autobiography involve a tension between disclosing and concealing their means of production: a chemical process for one, the writing process for the other. Meehan examines how four major authors—Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Frederick Douglass, and Walt Whitman—were well aware of this tension and explored it in their work. By examining the implications of early photography in their writings, he shows how each engaged the new visual medium, how photography mediated their conceptions of self-representation, and how their appropriation of photographic thinking created a new kind of autobiography.

Examining the metonymic nature of photography, Meehan explores how the new medium influenced conceptions of visual and verbal representation. He intertwines these four writers’ reflections on photography—in Emerson’s Representative Men, Thoreau’s journals, Douglass’s narratives of slavery, and Whitman’s Specimen Days—with theories of photography as expounded by its inventors and observers, from Louis Daguerre and William Talbot in Europe to Oliver Wendell Holmes and Marcus Root in America.

As the first book to focus on the emergence of this new visual medium during the American Renaissance, Mediating American Autobiography shows us what photography means for American literature in general and for the genre most closely linked to it in particular. Because the engagement of these writers with photography has been neglected in previous scholarship, Meehan’s work provocatively bridges the study of two media and illuminates an important aspect of American thought and culture at the dawn of the technological era.

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Minor Re/Visions
Asian American Literacy Narratives as a Rhetoric of Citizenship
Morris Young
Southern Illinois University Press, 2004

Through a blend of personal narrative, cultural and literary analysis, and discussions about teaching, Minor Re/Visions: Asian American Literacy Narratives as a Rhetoric of Citizenship shows how people of color use reading and writing to develop and articulate notions of citizenship. Morris Young begins with a narration of his own literacy experiences to illustrate the complicated relationship among literacy, race, and citizenship and to reveal the tensions that exist between competing beliefs and uses of literacy among those who are part of dominant American culture and those who are positioned as minorities.

Influenced by the literacy narratives of other writers of color, Young theorizes an Asian American rhetoric by examining the rhetorical construction of American citizenship in works such as Richard Rodriguez’s Hunger of Memory, Victor Villanueva’s Bootstraps: From an American Academic of Color, Carlos Bulosan’s America Is in the Heart, and Maxine Hong Kingston’s “Song for a Barbarian Reed Pipe” from Woman Warrior. These narratives, Young shows, tell stories of transformation through education, the acquisition of literacy, and cultural assimilation and resistance. They also offer an important revision to the American story by inserting the minor and creating a tension amid dominant discourses about literacy, race, and citizenship. Through a consideration of the literacy narratives of Hawai`i, Young also provides a context for reading literacy narratives as responses to racism, linguistic discrimination, and attempts at “othering” in a particular region.

As we are faced with dominant discourses that construct race and citizenship in problematic ways and as official institutions become even more powerful and prevalent in silencing minor voices, Minor Re/Visions reveals the critical need for revising minority and dominant discourses. Young’s observations and conclusions have important implications for the ways rhetoricians and compositionists read, teach, and assign literacy narratives.

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A Natural History of Nature Writing
Frank Stewart
Island Press, 1995

A Natural History of Nature Writing is a penetrating overview of the origins and development of a uniquely American literature. Essayist and poet Frank Stewart describes in rich and compelling prose the lives and works of the most prominent American nature writers of the19th and 20th centuries, including:

  • Henry D. Thoreau, the father of American nature writing.
  • John Burroughs, a schoolteacher and failed businessman who found his calling as a writer and elevated the nature essay to a loved and respected literary form.
  • John Muir, founder of Sierra Club, who celebrated the wilderness of the Far West as few before him had.
  • Aldo Leopold, a Forest Service employee and scholar who extended our moral responsibility to include all animals and plants.
  • Rachel Carson, a scientist who raised the consciousness of the nation by revealing the catastrophic effects of human intervention on the Earth's living systems.
  • Edward Abbey, an outspoken activist who charted the boundaries of ecological responsibility and pushed these boundaries to political extremes.
Stewart highlights the controversies ignited by the powerful and eloquent prose of these and other writers with their expansive – and often strongly political – points of view. Combining a deeply-felt sense of wonder at the beauty surrounding us with a rare ability to capture and explain the meaning of that beauty, nature writers have had a profound effect on American culture and politics. A Natural History of Nature Writing is an insightful examination of an important body of American literature.
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Pacific Possessions
The Pursuit of Authenticity in Nineteenth-Century Oceanian Travel Accounts
Chris J. Thomas
University of Alabama Press, 2021
Reframes Polynesia and Melanesia through analysis of nineteenth-century travel writing
 
In Pacific Possessions: The Pursuit of Authenticity in Nineteenth-Century Oceanian Travel Accounts, Chris J. Thomas expands the literary canon on Polynesia and Melanesia beyond the giants, such as Herman Melville and Jack London, to include travel narratives by British and American visitors. These accounts were widely read and reviewed when they first appeared but have largely been ignored by scholars. For the first time, Thomas defines these writings as a significant literary genre.
 
Recovering these works allows us to reconceive of nineteenth-century Oceania as a vibrant hub of cultural interchange. Pacific Possessions recaptures the polyphony of voices that enlivened this space through the writing of these travelers, while also paying attention to their Oceanian interlocutors. Each chapter centers on a Pacific cultural marker, what Thomas refers to as each writer’s “possession”: the Tongan tattoo, the Hawaiian hula, the Fijian cannibal fork, and  Robert Louis Stevenson’s cache of South Seas photographs.
 
Thomas analyzes how westerners formed narratives around these objects and what those objects meant within nineteenth-century Oceanian cultures. He argues that the accounts served to shape a version of Oceanian authenticity that persists today. The profiled traveler-writers had complex experiences, at times promoting exoticized exaggerations of so-called authentic Polynesian and Melanesian cultures and at other times genuinely engaging in cultural exchange. However, their views were ultimately compromised by a western lens. In Thomas’s words, “the authenticity is at once celebrated and written over.”
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Panic Fiction
Women and Antebellum Economic Crisis
Mary Templin
University of Alabama Press, 2014
Panic Fiction explores a unique body of antebellum American women’s writing that illuminates women’s relationships to the marketplace and the links between developing ideologies of domesticity and the formation of an American middle class.

Between the mid-1830s and the late 1850s, authors such as Hannah Lee, Catharine Sedgwick, Eliza Follen, Maria McIntosh, and Maria Cummins wrote dozens of novels and stories depicting the effects of financial panic on the home and proposing solutions to economic instability. This unique body of antebellum American women’s writing, which integrated economic discourse with the language and conventions of domestic fiction, is what critic Mary Templin terms “panic fiction.”

In Panic Fiction: Antebellum Women Writers and Economic Crisis, Templin draws in part from the methods of New Historicism and cultural studies, situating these authors and their texts within the historical and cultural contexts of their time. She explores events surrounding the panics of 1837 and 1857, prevalent attitudes toward speculation and failure as seen in newspapers and other contemporaneous texts, women’s relationships to the marketplace, and the connections between domestic ideology and middle-class formation.

Although largely unknown today, the phenomena of “panic fiction” was extremely popular in its time and had an enormous influence on nineteenth-century popular conceptions of speculation, failure, and the need for marketplace reform, providing a distinct counterpoint to the analysis of panic found in newspapers, public speeches, and male-authored literary texts of the time.
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The People and the Word
Reading Native Nonfiction
Robert Warrior
University of Minnesota Press, 2005
Much literary scholarship has been devoted to the flowering of Native American fiction and poetry in the mid-twentieth century. Yet, Robert Warrior argues, nonfiction has been the primary form used by American Indians in developing a relationship with the written word, one that reaches back much further in Native history and culture. 

Focusing on autobiographical writings and critical essays, as well as communally authored and political documents, The People and the Word explores how the Native tradition of nonfiction has both encompassed and dissected Native experiences. Warrior begins by tracing a history of American Indian writing from the eighteenth century to the late twentieth century, then considers four particular moments: Pequot intellectual William Apess’s autobiographical writings from the 1820s and 1830s; the Osage Constitution of 1881; narratives from American Indian student experiences, including accounts of boarding school in the late 1880s; and modern Kiowa writer N. Scott Momaday’s essay “The Man Made of Words,” penned during the politically charged 1970s. Warrior’s discussion of Apess’s work looks unflinchingly at his unconventional life and death; he recognizes resistance to assimilation in the products of the student print shop at the Santee Normal Training School; and in the Osage Constitution, as well as in Momaday’s writing, Warrior sees reflections of their turbulent times as well as guidance for our own. 

Taking a cue from Momaday’s essay, which gives voice to an imaginary female ancestor, Ko-Sahn, Warrior applies both critical skills and literary imagination to the texts. In doing so, The People and the Word provides a rich foundation for Native intellectuals’ critical work, deeply entwined with their unique experiences. 

Robert Warrior is professor of English and Native American studies at the University of Oklahoma. He is author of Tribal Secrets: Recovering American Indian Intellectual Traditions (Minnesota, 1994) and coauthor, with Paul Chaat Smith, of Like a Hurricane: The Indian Movement from Alcatraz to Wounded Knee.
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Pilgrims To The Wild
John P O'Grady
University of Utah Press, 1993

Pilgrims to the Wild is a survey of American writers who have responded to their encounters with the natural world. Ranging in its treatment from Thoreau’s important but neglected essay, 'Walking,' to the exuberant letters of the young artist Everett Ruess (who disappeared in the Escalante canyonlands), this is a broadly based exploration that brings to bear Eastern and Western classical philosophy, as well as contemporary critical theory, on a distinctive tradition of American Writing—those works concerned with the human relationship to the nonhuman world.

In addition to offering a fresh interpretation of classic authors such a Thoreau and Muir, this book introduces readers to the less widely known but equally fascinating writers Clarence King and Mary Austin.

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Poems and Meditations
Anne Bradstreet
Iter Press, 2019
This volume presents all the surviving writings of the poet Anne Bradstreet (ca. 1612–1672): the poems published during her lifetime in The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America; or, Several Poems (London, 1650), poems added to the posthumous edition of Bradstreet’s Several Poems (Boston, 1678), and the material in her hand and that of her son preserved in a manuscript volume known as the Andover manuscript. Extensive footnotes illuminate Bradstreet’s broad reading in the medical, scientific, and historical literature of her day, as well as her interest in recent and current English history and politics.
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The Rediscovered Writings of Rose Wilder Lane, Literary Journalist
Edited by Amy Mattson Lauters
University of Missouri Press, 2007
Through numerous short stories, novels such as Free Land, and political writings such as “Credo,” Rose Wilder Lane forged a literary career that would be eclipsed by the shadow of her mother, Laura Ingalls Wilder, whose Little House books Lane edited. Lane’s fifty-year career in journalism has remained largely unexplored.
            This book recovers journalistic work by an American icon for whom scholarly recognition is long overdue. Amy Mattson Lauters introduces readers to Lane’s life through examples of her journalism and argues that her work and career help establish her not only as an author and political rhetorician but also as a literary journalist. Lauters has assembled a collection of rarely seen nonfiction articles that illustrate Lane’s talent as a writer of literary nonfiction, provide on-the-spot views of key moments in American cultural history, and offer sharp commentary on historical events.
            Through this collection of Lane’s journalism, dating from early work for Sunset magazine in 1918 to her final piece for Woman’s Day set in 1965 Saigon, Lauters shows how Lane infused her writing with her particular ideology of Americanism and individualism, self-reliance, and freedom from government interference, thereby offering stark commentary on her times. Lane shares her experiences as an extra in a Douglas Fairbanks movie and interviews D.W. Griffith. She reports on average American women struggling to raise a family in wartime and hikes over the Albanian mountains between the world wars. Her own maturing conservative political views provide a lens through which readers can view debates over the draft, war, and women’s citizenship during World War II, and her capstone piece brings us again into a culture torn by war, this time in Southeast Asia.
            These writings have not been available to the reading public since they first appeared. They encapsulate important moments for Lane and her times, revealing the woman behind the text, the development of her signature literary style, and her progression as a writer. Lauters’s introduction reveals the flow of Lane’s life and career, offering key insights into women’s history, the literary journalism genre, and American culture in the first half of the twentieth century.
Through these works, readers will discover a writer whose cultural identity was quintessentially American, middle class, midwestern, and simplistic—and who assumed the mantle of custodian to Americanism through women’s arts. The Rediscovered Writings of Rose Wilder Lane traces the extraordinary relationship between one woman and American society over fifty pivotal years and offers readers a treasury of writings to enjoy and discuss.
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REGULATIONS OF ROBBERS
LEGAL FICTIONS OF SLAVERY AND RESISTANCE
CHRISTINA ACCOMANDO
The Ohio State University Press, 2001

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The Rhetoric of Empire
Colonial Discourse in Journalism, Travel Writing, and Imperial Administration
David Spurr
Duke University Press, 1993
The white man's burden, darkest Africa, the seduction of the primitive: such phrases were widespread in the language Western empires used to talk about their colonial enterprises. How this language itself served imperial purposes--and how it survives today in writing about the Third World--are the subject of David Spurr's book, a revealing account of the rhetorical strategies that have defined Western thinking about the non-Western world.
Despite historical differences among British, French, and American versions of colonialism, their rhetoric had much in common. The Rhetoric of Empire identifies these shared features—images, figures of speech, and characteristic lines of argument—and explores them in a wide variety of sources. A former correspondent for the United Press International, the author is equally at home with journalism or critical theory, travel writing or official documents, and his discussion is remarkably comprehensive. Ranging from T. E. Lawrence and Isak Dineson to Hemingway and Naipaul, from Time and the New Yorker to the National Geographic and Le Monde, from journalists such as Didion and Sontag to colonial administrators such as Frederick Lugard and Albert Sarraut, this analysis suggests the degree to which certain rhetorical tactics penetrate the popular as well as official colonial and postcolonial discourse.
Finally, Spurr considers the question: Can the language itself—and with it, Western forms of interpretation--be freed of the exercise of colonial power? This ambitious book is an answer of sorts. By exposing the rhetoric of empire, Spurr begins to loosen its hold over discourse about—and between—different cultures.
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The Rhetoric of the "Other" Literature
W. Ross Winterowd
Southern Illinois University Press, 1990

Using traditional and contemporary rhetorical theory, Winterowd argues that the fiction-nonfiction division of literature is unjustified and destructive.

He would bridge the gap between literary scholars and rhetoricians by including both fiction (imaginative literature) and nonfiction (literature of fact) in the canon. The actual difference in literary texts, he notes, lies not in their factuality but in their potential for eliciting an aesthetic response.

With speech act and rhetorical theory as a basis, Winterowd argues that presentational literature gains its power on the basis of its ethical and pathetic appeal, not because of its assertions or arguments.

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Risk Culture
Performance and Danger in Early America
Joseph Fichtelberg
University of Michigan Press, 2010
"As a number of recent studies have shown, the north European commercial world made the precise calculation of risk a central concern of the intellectual project of exploration, trade, and colonization. The great merit of Fichtelberg's book is systematizing the imaged world of dangers, and charting the various kinds of ritual and discursive performances marshaled to deal with the pressure of the unspeakable in early America from the 17th into the early 19th century. The readings of texts are invariably careful, and the points made, persuasive."
---David Shields, University of South Carolina
 
Risk Culture is the first scholarly book to explore how strategies of performance shaped American responses to modernity. By examining a variety of early American authors and cultural figures, from John Smith and the Salem witches to Phillis Wheatley, Susanna Rowson, and Aaron Burr, Joseph Fichtelberg shows how early Americans created and resisted a dangerously liberating new world. The texts surveyed confront change through a variety of performances designed both to imagine and deter menaces ranging from Smith's hostile Indians, to Wheatley's experience of slavery, to Rowson's fear of exposure in the public sphere. Fichtelberg combines a variety of scholarly approaches, including anthropology, history, cultural studies, and literary criticism, to offer a unique synthesis of literary close reading and sociological theory in the service of cultural analysis.
 
Joseph Fichtelberg is Professor of English and Chair of the English Department at Hofstra University.
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Road-Book America
Contemporary Culture and the New Picaresque
Rowland A. Sherrill
University of Illinois Press, 2000
In this wide-ranging and sophisticated study, Rowland Sherrill explores the resurgence and transformation of an old literary form--the picaresque narrative--into a new form that he shows to be both responsive and instructive to late twentieth-century American life.
 
Road-Book America discloses how the old picaresque tradition, embodied in such novels as Henry Fielding's Tom Jones and Daniel Defoe's Moll Flanders, opens to include a number of new American texts, both fiction and nonfiction, that decisively share the characterizing form. Sherrill's discussion encompasses hundreds of American narratives published in the past four decades, including such examples of the genre as William Least Heat-Moon's Blue Highways, John Steinbeck's Travels with Charley, James Leo Herlihy's Midnight Cowboy, Bill Moyers's Listening to America, and E. L. Doctorow's Billy Bathgate.
 
Sketching the socially marginal, ingenuous, traveling characters common to both old and new versions, Sherrill shows how the "new American picaresque" transforms the satirical aims of the original into an effort to map and catalog the immensity and variety of America.
 
Open, resilient, perennially hopeful, and endowed with a protean adaptability, the protagonist of the new American picaresque follows a therapeutic path for the alienated modern self. Mining the relevance of the reformulated picaresque for American life, Road-Book America shows how this old form, adaptable as the picaro himself, lays the groundwork for spiritual renewal and a restoration of cultural confidence in some old ways of being American.
 
 
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Roman Holidays
American Writers and Artists in Nineteenth-Century Italy
Robert K. Martin
University of Iowa Press, 2001
Featuring essays by twelve prominent American literature scholars, Roman Holidaysexplores the tradition of American travel to Italy and makes a significant contribution to the understanding of nineteenth-century American encounters with Italian culture and, more specifically, with Rome.
The increase in American travel to Italy during the nineteenth century was partly a product of improved conditions of travel. As suggested in the title, Italy served nineteenth-century writers and artists as a kind of laboratory site for encountering Others and “other” kinds of experience. No doubt Italy offered a place of holiday—a momentary escape from the familiar—but the journey to Rome, a place urging upon the visitor a new and more complex sense of history, also forced a reexamination of oneself and one's identity. Writers and artists found their religious, political, and sexual assumptions challenged.
Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Marble Faun has a prominent place in this collection: as Henry James commented in his study of Hawthorne, the book was “part of the intellectual equipment of the Anglo-Saxon visitor to Rome.” The essayists also examine works by James, Fuller, Melville, Douglass, Howells, and other writers as well as such sculptors as Hiram Powers, William Wetmore Story, and Harriet Hosmer.
Bringing contemporary concerns about gender, race, and class to bear upon nineteenth-century texts, Roman Holidays is an especially timely contribution to nineteenth-century American studies.
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Romance Of The Road
Literature Of The American Highway
Ronald Primeau
University of Wisconsin Press, 1996
For four decades, the American road narrative has been a significant and popular literary genre for expressing journeys of self discovery. These works have been used as springboards for authors to define our national identity, to explore opportunities to escape from the daily routine, and to express social protest. This comprehensive study of an important American art form examines how road narratives create dialogues between travelers, authors, and readers about who we are, what we value, and where we hope to be going.
     Writers examined include Jack Kerouac, Jim Dodge, Ralph Waldo Emerson, William Least Heat Moon, Robert M. Pirsig, Henry Miller, Joan Didion, Mona Simpson, and Walt Whitman.
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Self-Discovery and Authority in Afro-American Narrative
Valerie Smith
Harvard University Press, 1987
In this perceptive exploration of the relationship between autobiography and fiction in African-American writing, Valerie Smith argues that black writers—from the authors of nineteenth-century slave narratives to contemporary novelists—affirm and legitimize their psychological autonomy by telling the stories of their lives. Focusing on autobiographies by Olaudah Equiano, Frederick Douglass, and Harriet Jacobs and on the fiction of James Weldon Johnson, Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, and Toni Morrison, Smith demonstrates the ways in which the act of narrating constitutes an act of self-fashioning that must be understood in the context of the African-American experience. Hers is a fertile investigation, attuned to the differences in male and female sensibilities, and attentive to the importance of oral traditions.
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Shared Selves
Latinx Memoir and Ethical Alternatives to Humanism
Suzanne Bost
University of Illinois Press, 2019
Memoir typically places selfhood at the center. Interestingly, the genre's recent surge in popularity coincides with breakthroughs in scholarship focused on selfhood in a new way: as an always renewing, always emerging entity. Suzanne Bost draws on feminist and posthumanist ideas to explore how three contemporary memoirists decenter the self. Latinx writers John Rechy, Aurora Levins Morales, and Gloria E. Anzaldúa work in places where personal history intertwines with communities, environments, animals, plants, and spirits. This dedication to interconnectedness resonates with ideas in posthumanist theory while calling on indigenous worldviews. As Bost argues, our view of life itself expands if we look at how such frameworks interact with queer theory, disability studies, ecological thinking, and other fields. These webs of relation in turn mediate experience, agency, and lift itself.A transformative application of posthumanist ideas to Latinx, feminist, and literary studies, Shared Selves shows how memoir can encourage readers to think more broadly and deeply about what counts as human life.
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The Sonoran Desert
A Literary Field Guide
Edited by Eric Magrane and Christopher Cokinos, Illustrations by Paul Mirocha
University of Arizona Press, 2016
A land of austerity and bounty, the Sonoran Desert is a place that captures imaginations and hearts. It is a place where barbs snag, thorns prick, and claws scratch. A place where lizards scramble and pause, hawks hunt like wolves, and bobcats skulk in creosote.

Both literary anthology and hands-on field guide, The Sonoran Desert is a groundbreaking book that melds art and science. It captures the stunning biodiversity of the world’s most verdant desert through words and images. More than fifty poets and writers—including Christopher Cokinos, Alison Hawthorne Deming, Ken Lamberton, Eric Magrane, Jane Miller, Gary Paul Nabhan, Alberto Ríos, Ofelia Zepeda, and many others—have composed responses to key species of this striking desert. Each creative contribution is joined by an illustration by award-winning artist Paul Mirocha and scientific information about the creature or plant authored by the book’s editors.

From the saguaro to the mountain lion, from the black-tailed jackrabbit to the mesquite, the species represented here have evoked compelling and creative responses from each contributor. Just as writers such as Edward Abbey and Ellen Meloy have memorialized the desert, this collection is sure to become a new classic, offering up the next generation of voices of this special and beautiful place, the Sonoran Desert.

 
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Stripped and Script
Loyalist Women Writers of the American Revolution
Kacy Dowd Tillman
University of Massachusetts Press, 2019
Female loyalists occupied a nearly impossible position during the American Revolution. Unlike their male counterparts, loyalist women were effectively silenced—unable to officially align themselves with either side or avoid being persecuted for their family ties. In this book, Kacy Dowd Tillman argues that women's letters and journals are the key to recovering these voices, as these private writings were used as vehicles for public engagement. Through a literary analysis of extensive correspondence by statesmen's wives, Quakers, merchants, and spies, Stripped and Script offers a new definition of loyalism that accounts for disaffection, pacifism, neutralism, and loyalism-by-association. Taking up the rhetoric of violation and rape, this archive repeatedly references the real threats rebels posed to female bodies, property, friendships, and families. Through writing, these women defended themselves against violation, in part, by writing about their personal experiences while knowing that the documents themselves may be confiscated, used against them, and circulated.
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Style as Argument
Contemporary American Nonfiction
Chirs Anderson
Southern Illinois University Press, 1987

Taking the position that style has a value in its own right, that language forms a major component of the story a nonfiction writer has to tell, Anderson analyzes the work of America’s foremost practitioners of New Journalism—Tom Wolfe, Truman Capote, Norman Mailer, and Joan Didion.

Anderson does for nonfiction what insightful critics have long been doing for fiction and poetry. His approach is rhetorical, and his message is that the rhetoric of Wolfe, Capote, Mailer, and Didion is a direct response to the problem of trying to convey to a general audience the sublime, inexplicable, or private and intuitive experiences that conventional rhetoric cannot evoke.

The emphasis in this book is on style, not genre, and the analysis characterizes the distinctive styles of four American writers, showing how the richness and complexity of their prose discloses an important argument about the value of language itself. Their prose is complex, nuanced, layered, affecting, always aware of itself as style. This self-consciousness, Anderson contends, prepares the reader to regard style as argument, a “tacit but powerful statement about the value of form as form, style as style.”

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Templates for Authorship
American Women's Literary Autobiography of the 1930s
Windy Counsell Petrie
University of Massachusetts Press, 2021
As autobiographies by famous women like Eleanor Roosevelt and Amelia Earhart became bestsellers in the 1930s, American publishers sought out literary autobiographies from female novelists, poets, salon hosts, and editors. Templates for Authorship analyzes the market and cultural forces that created an unprecedented boom in American women's literary autobiography.

Windy Counsell Petrie considers twelve autobiographies from a diverse group of writers, ranging from highbrow modernists such as Gertrude Stein and Harriet Monroe to popular fiction writers like Edith Wharton and Edna Ferber, and lesser known figures such as Grace King and Carolyn Wells. Since there were few existing examples of women's literary autobiography, these writers found themselves marketed and interpreted within four cultural templates: the artist, the activist, the professional, and the celebrity. As they wrote their life stories, the women adapted these templates to counter unwanted interpretations and resist the sentimental feminine traditions of previous generations with innovative strategies of deferral, elision, comedy, and collaboration. This accessible study contends that writing autobiography offered each of these writers an opportunity to define and defend her own literary legacy.
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To Be Suddenly White
Literary Realism and Racial Passing
Steven J. Belluscio
University of Missouri Press, 2006
To Be Suddenly White explores the troubled relationship between literary passing and literary realism, the dominant aesthetic motivation behind the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century ethnic texts considered in this study. Steven J. Belluscio uses the passing narrative to provide insight into how the representation of ethnic and racial subjectivity served, in part, to counter dominant narratives of difference.  

To Be Suddenly White offers new readings of traditional passing narratives from the African American literary tradition, such as James Weldon Johnson’s The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man, Nella Larsen’s Passing, and George Schuyler’s Black No More. It is also the first full-length work to consider a number of Jewish American and Italian American prose texts, such as Mary Antin’s The Promised Land, Anzia Yezierska’s Bread Givers, and Guido d’Agostino’s Olives on the Apple Tree, as racial passing narratives in their own right. Belluscio also demonstrates the contradictions that result from the passing narrative’s exploration of racial subjectivity, racial difference, and race itself.

When they are seen in comparison, ideological differences begin to emerge between African American passing narratives and “white ethnic” (Jewish American and Italian American) passing narratives. According to Belluscio, the former are more likely to engage in a direct critique of ideas of race, while the latter have a tendency to become more simplistic acculturation narratives in which a character moves from a position of ethnic difference to one of full American identity.

The desire “to be suddenly white” serves as a continual point of reference for Belluscio, enabling him to analyze how writers, even when overtly aware of the problematic nature of race (especially African American writers), are also aware of the conditions it creates, the transformations it provokes, and the consequences of both. Byexamining the content and context of these works, Belluscio elucidates their engagement with discourses of racial and ethnic differences, assimilation, passing, and identity, an approach that has profound implications for the understanding of American literary history.
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Too Numerous
Kent Shaw
University of Massachusetts Press, 2019
What does it really mean when people are viewed as bytes of data? And is there beauty or an imaginative potential to information culture and the databases cataloging it? As Too Numerous reveals, the raw material of bytes and data points can be reshaped and repurposed for ridiculous, melancholic, and even aesthetic purposes. 

Grappling with an information culture that is both intimidating and daunting, Kent Shaw considers the impersonality represented by the continuing accumulation of personal information and the felicities—and barriers—that result: "The us that was inside us was magnificent structures. And they weren't going to grow any larger."
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Tourists with Typewriters
Critical Reflections on Contemporary Travel Writing
Patrick Holland and Graham Huggan
University of Michigan Press, 2000
The first extensive survey of contemporary travel writing, Tourists with Typewriters offers a series of challenging and provocative critical insights into a wide range of travel narratives written in English after the Second World War. The book focuses in particular on contemporary travel writers such as Jan Morris, Peter Matthiessen, V. S. Naipaul, Barry Lopez, Mary Morris, Paul Theroux, Peter Mayle, and the late Bruce Chatwin. It examines some of the reasons for travel writing's enduring popularity, and for its particular appeal to readers--many of them also travelers--in the present.
The book maps new terrain in a growing area of critical study. Although critical of travel writing's complacency and its often unacknowledged ethnocentrism, the book recognizes its importance as both a literary and cultural form. While travel writing at its worst emerges as a crude expression of economic advantage, at its best it becomes a subtle instrument of cultural self-perception, a barometer for changing views of "other" (i.e., foreign, non-Western) cultures, and a trigger for the information circuits that tap us into the wider world.
Tourists with Typewriters gauges both the best and worst in contemporary travel writing, capturing the excitement of this most volatile--and at times infuriating--of literary genres. The book will appeal to general readers interested in a closer examination of travel writing and to academic readers in disciplines such as literary/cultural studies, geography, history, anthropology, and tourism studies.
"An eminently readable and informative study. It breathes tolerance and intelligence. It is critically perceptive and very au courant. It raises issues (coloniality, postmodernity, gender. . . ) and discusses books that readers of many different stripes will want to find out about." --Ross Chambers, University of Michigan
Patrick Holland, Associate Professor of English, University of Guelph, was born in New Zealand and educated in England, Australia, and Canada. Graham Huggan, Professor of English, University of Munich, was born in Hong Kong and educated in England and in British Columbia.
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Traveling Economies
American Women's Travel Writing
Jennifer Bernhardt Steadman
The Ohio State University Press, 2007
The black and white women travel writers whom Jennifer Bernhardt Steadman investigates in Traveling Economies astonish modern readers with their daring, stamina, and courage. That these women traveled at all is surprising: Nancy Prince spent nearly a decade as an African American member of the Russian Imperial Court; Amy Morris Bradley went to Costa Rica as a governess in hopes of saving her health and finances after years as an impoverished teacher in Maine; and Julia Archibald Holmes carried the banner of dress reform to the heights of Pikes Peak and to the pages of a feminist periodical. Developing the concept of the “ragged edge,” Steadman highlights these women’s shared experiences of penury, work, and independence. Genteel poverty, black skin, outspoken feminism, or sometimes all three impacted the material conditions of their ragged-edge travel (early muckraking journalist Anne Royall walked until her feet were a bloody mass of blisters). Being on the ragged edge also affected the way they represented themselves and their travels (Mary Ann Shadd Cary presented her outspoken advocacy of black emigration to Canada as appropriately feminine). Frances Wright used her travel writing to imagine the new nation as a potential utopia for women citizens; she paid a high price for daring to try to change the social terrain she crossed. Steadman’s interdisciplinary work with archives, newspapers, memoirs, and letters and her thoughtful close readings of the resulting evidence recover these important women’s travels and writing and invite us to rethink where and how women went and what they wrote in antebellum America.
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Traveling Women
Narrative Visions of Early America
Susan Clair Imbarrato
Ohio University Press, 2006
Women’s travel narratives recording journeys north and south along the eastern seaboard and west onto the Ohio frontier enhance our historical understanding of early America. Drawing extensively from primary sources, Traveling Women documents women’s role in westward settlement and emphasizes travel as a culture-building event.

Susan Clair Imbarrato closely examines women’s accounts of their journeys from 1700 to 1830, including Sarah Kemble Knight’s well-known journal of her trip from Boston to New York in 1704 and many lesser-known accounts, such as Sarah Beavis’s 1779 journal of her travel to Ohio via Kentucky and Susan Edwards Johnson’s account or her 1801–2 journey from Connecticut to North Carolina.

In the women’s keen observations and entertaining wit, readers will find bravado mixed with hesitation, as women set forth on business, to relocate, and for pleasure. These travelers wrote compellingly of crossing rivers and mountains, facing hunger, encountering native Americans, sleeping in taverns, and confronting slavery, expressing themselves in voices that differed in sensibility from male explorers and travelers.

These accounts, as Imbarrato shows, challenge assumptions that such travel was predominately a male enterprise. In addition, Traveling Women provides a more balanced portrait of westward settlement by affirming women’s importance in the settling of early America.
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The Trouble with Sauling Around
Conversion in Ethnic American Autobiography, 1965-2002
Madeline R. Walker
University of Iowa Press, 2011
Examining autobiographical texts by Malcolm X (The Autobiography of Malcolm X), Oscar Zeta Acosta (The Autobiography of a Brown Buffalo and Revolt of the Cockroach People), Amiri Baraka (The Autobiography of LeRoi Jones), and Richard Rodriguez  (Hunger of Memory, Days of Obligation, and Brown), Walker questions the often rosy views and simplistic binary conceptions of religious conversion. Her reading of these texts takes into account the conflict and serial changes the authors experience in a society that marginalizes them, the manner in which religious conversion offers ethnic Americans “salvation” through cultural assimilation or cultural nationalism, and what conversion, anticonversion, and deconversion narratives tell us about the problematic effects of religion that often go unremarked because of a code of “special respect” and political correctness.
 
Walker asserts that critics have been too willing to praise religion in America as salutary or beyond the ken of criticism because religious belief is seen as belonging to an untouchable arena of cultural identity. The Trouble with Sauling Around goes beyond traditional literary criticism to pay close attention to the social phenomena that underlie religious conversion narratives and considers the potentially negative effects of religious conversion, something that has been likewise neglected by scholars.
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True Stories
A Century of Literary Journalism
Norman Sims
Northwestern University Press, 2007
Journalism in the twentieth century was marked by the rise of literary journalism. Sims traces more than a century of its history, examining the cultural connections, competing journalistic schools of thought, and innovative writers that have given literary journalism its power. Seminal examples of the genre provide ample context and background for the study of this style of journalism.
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The Voice of the Mother
Embedded Maternal Narratives in Twentieth-Century Women's Autobiographies
Jo Malin
Southern Illinois University Press, 2000

Every woman autobiographer is a daughter who writes and establishes her identity through her autobiographical narrative. In The Voice of the Mother, Jo Malin argues that many twentieth-century autobiographies by women contain an intertext, an embedded narrative, which is a biography of the writer/daughter’s mother.

Analyzing this narrative practice, Malin examines ten texts by women who seem particularly compelled to tell their mothers’ stories: Virginia Woolf, Sara Suleri, Kim Chernin, Drusilla Modjeska, Joan Nestle, Carolyn Steedman, Dorothy Allison, Adrienne Rich, Cherríe Moraga, and Audre Lorde. Each author is, in fact, able to write her own autobiography only by using a narrative form that contains her mother’s story at its core. These texts raise interesting questions about autobiography as a genre and about a feminist writing practice that resists and subverts the dominant literary tradition.

Malin theorizes a hybrid form of autobiographical narrative containing an embedded narrative of the mother. The textual relationship between the two narratives is unique among texts in the auto/biographical canon. This alternative narrative practice—in which the daughter attempts to talk both to her mother and about her—is equally an autobiography and a biography rather than one or the other. The technique is marked by a breakdown of subject/object categories as well as auto/biographical dichotomies of genre. Each text contains a “self” that is more plural than singular, yet neither.

            

In addition to being a theoretical and textual analysis, Malin’s book is also a mother-daughter autobiography and biography itself. She shares her own story and her mother’s story as a way to connect directly with readers and as a way to bridge the gap between theory and practice.

            

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Voices in the Wilderness
Public Discourse and the Paradox of Puritan Rhetoric
Patricia Roberts-Miller
University of Alabama Press, 1999
What has gone wrong with discourse and deliberation in the United States? It remains monologic, argues Patricia Roberts-Miller in Voices in the Wilderness, which traces America’s dominant form of argumentation back to its roots in the rhetorical tradition of 17th-century American Puritans. A work of composition theory, rhetorical theory, and cultural criticism, this volume ultimately provides not only new approaches to argumentation and the teaching of rhetoric, composition, and communication but also an original perspective on the current debate over public discourse

Both Jürgen Habermas and Wayne Booth—two of the most influential theorists in the domain of public discourse and good citizenry—argue for an inclusive public deliberation that involves people who are willing to listen to one another, to identify points of agreement and disagreement, and to make good faith attempts to validate any disputed claims. The Puritan voice crying in the wilderness, Roberts-Miller shows, does none of these things. To this individual of conscience engaged in a ceaseless battle of right and wrong against greedy philistines, all inclusion, mediation, and reciprocity are seen as evil, corrupting, and unnecessary. Hence, the voice in the wilderness does not in any real sense participate in public deliberation, only in public pronouncement.

Arguing that our culture’s continuing affection for the ethos of the voice crying in the wilderness is one of our more troubling inheritances from the early American ambivalence to public discourse—including the Puritan denigration of rhetoric—Roberts-Miller contends that the monologic discourse of the Puritans in fact contains within it arguments for dialogism. Thus, the history of rhetoric can provide much richer fields for reimagining discourse than heretofore credited. Roberts-Miller concludes by extending her findings into their practical applications for argumentation in the public sphere and in the composition classroom.
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Western Subjects
Autobiographical Writing In North American West
Gioia Woods
University of Utah Press, 2005

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White Slaves, African Masters
An Anthology of American Barbary Captivity Narratives
Edited by Paul Baepler
University of Chicago Press, 1999
Some of the most popular stories in nineteenth-century America were sensational tales of whites captured and enslaved in North Africa. White Slaves, African Masters for the first time gathers together a selection of these Barbary captivity narratives, which significantly influenced early American attitudes toward race, slavery, and nationalism.

Though Barbary privateers began to seize North American colonists as early as 1625, Barbary captivity narratives did not begin to flourish until after the American Revolution. During these years, stories of Barbary captivity forced the U.S. government to pay humiliating tributes to African rulers, stimulated the drive to create the U.S. Navy, and brought on America's first post-revolutionary war. These tales also were used both to justify and to vilify slavery.

The accounts collected here range from the 1798 tale of John Foss, who was ransomed by Thomas Jefferson's administration for tribute totaling a sixth of the annual federal budget, to the story of Ion Perdicaris, whose (probably staged) abduction in Tangier in 1904 prompted Theodore Roosevelt to send warships to Morocco and inspired the 1975 film The Wind and the Lion. Also included is the unusual story of Robert Adams, a light-skinned African American who was abducted by Arabs and used by them to hunt negro slaves; captured by black villagers who presumed he was white; then was sold back to a group of Arabs, from whom he was ransomed by a British diplomat.

Long out of print and never before anthologized, these fascinating tales open an entirely new chapter of early American literary history, and shed new light on the more familiar genres of Indian captivity narrative and American slave narrative.

"Baepler has done American literary and cultural historians a service by collecting these long-out-of-print Barbary captivity narratives . . . . Baepler's excellent introduction and full bibliography of primary and secondary sources greatly enhance our knowledge of this fascinating genre."—Library Journal
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Witnessing Slavery
The Development Of Ante-Bellum Slave Narratives
Frances Smith Foster
University of Wisconsin Press, 1994
Frances Foster's classic study of pre-Civil War American slave autobiography is now issued in an accessible paperback edition. The first book to represent these slave narratives as literary in the complete sense of the word, and the first study to call attention to the significance of gender in the narratives, Witnessing Slavery will be welcomed by both general readers and students of the American south, slavery, the Civil War, and race issues.
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Women, Autobiography, Theory
A Reader
Edited by Sidonie A. Smith and Julia Watson
University of Wisconsin Press, 1998

    Women, Autobiography, Theory is the first comprehensive guide to the burgeoning field of women’s autobiography, drawing into one volume the most significant theoretical discussions on women’s life writing of the last two decades. 
    The authoritative introduction by Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson surveys writing about women’s lives from the women’s movement of the late 1960s to the present. It also relates theoretical positions in women’s autobiography studies to postmodern, poststructuralist, postcolonial, and feminist analyses.
    The essays from thirty-nine prominent critics and writers include many considered classics in this field. They explore narratives across the centuries and from around the globe, including testimonios, diaries, memoirs, letters, trauma accounts, prison narratives, coming-out stories, coming-of-age stories, and spiritual autobiographies. A list of more than two hundred women’s autobiographies and a comprehensive bibliography of critical scholarship in women’s autobiography provide invaluable information for scholars, teachers, and readers.

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Women's Life-Writing
Finding Voice, Building Community
Linda S. Coleman
University of Wisconsin Press, 1997
These essays offer readers vivid and varied evidence of the female response to recurring attempts by culture to artificially limit identity along the gendered lines of private and public experience. Calling on voices both familiar and little known, British and American, black and white, young and old, the essayists explore how women used life-writing as a means of both self-understanding and connection to a community of sympathetic others, real or imagined.
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Writing the Lost Generation
Expatriate Autobiography and American Modernism
Craig Monk
University of Iowa Press, 2008
Members of the Lost Generation, American writers and artists who lived in Paris during the 1920s, continue to occupy an important place in our literary history. Rebelling against increased commercialism and the ebb of cosmopolitan society in early twentieth-century America, they rejected the culture of what Ernest Hemingway called a place of “broad lawns and narrow minds.”
      Much of what we know about these iconic literary figures comes from their own published letters and essays, revealing how adroitly they developed their own reputations by controlling the reception of their work. Surprisingly the literary world has paid less attention to their autobiographies.
      In Writing the Lost Generation, Craig Monk unlocks a series of neglected texts while reinvigorating our reading of more familiar ones. Well-known autobiographies by Malcolm Cowley, Ernest Hemingway, and Gertrude Stein are joined here by works from a variety of lesser-known—but still important—expatriate American writers, including Sylvia Beach, Alfred Kreymborg, Samuel Putnam, and Harold Stearns. By bringing together the self-reflective works of the Lost Generation and probing the ways the writers portrayed themselves, Monk provides an exciting and comprehensive overview of modernist expatriates from the United States.
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Writing the Pioneer Woman
Janet Floyd
University of Missouri Press, 2002

Focusing on a series of autobiographical texts, published and private, well known and obscure, Writing the Pioneer Woman examines the writing of domestic life on the nineteenth-century North American frontier. In an attempt to determine the meanings found in the pioneer woman's everyday writings—from records of recipes to descriptions of washing floors—Janet Floyd explores domestic details in the autobiographical writing of British and Anglo-American female emigrants.

Floyd argues that the figure of the pioneer housewife has been a significant one within general cultural debates about the home and the domestic life of women, on both sides of the Atlantic. She looks at the varied ideological work performed by this figure over the last 150 years and at what the pioneer woman signifies and has signified in national cultural debates concerning womanhood and home.

The autobiographies under discussion are not only of homemaking but also of emigration. Equally, these texts are about the enterprise of emigration, with several of them written to advise prospective emigrants. Using the insights of diaspora and migration theory, Floyd shows that these writings portray a far subtler role for the pioneer woman than is suggested by previous scholars, who often see her either as participating directly in the overall domestication of colonial space or as being strictly marginal to that process.

Written in response to the highly critical discussion of the attitudes and activities of female "civilizers" within "New" Western history and postcolonial studies, Writing the Pioneer Woman will be a valuable addition to the burgeoning discussion of the literature of domesticity.

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