front cover of Daughters, Fathers, and the Novel
Daughters, Fathers, and the Novel
The Sentimental Romance of Heterosexuality
Lynda Zwinger
University of Wisconsin Press, 1991

Daughters, Fathers, and the Novel is a provocative study of the father-daughter story—a neglected dimension of the family romance.  It has important implications for the history of the novel, for our understanding of key texts in that history, and for theories concerning the representation of gender, family relations, and heterosexuality in Western culture.
    In the English and American novel, argues Lynda Zwinger, “the good woman”  .  .  .  is a father’s daughter,  .  .  .  constructed to the very particular specifications of an omnipresent and unvoiced paternal desire.”  Zwinger supports her case with an analysis of both “high-brow” and “low-brow” novels and with ingenious textual analyses of five novels:  Clarissa Harlowe, Dombey and Son, Little Women, The Golden Bowl, and The Story of O.
    In the dominant discourse of Anglo-American culture, the father’s daughter provides the cornerstone for the patriarchal edifice of domesticity and the alibi for patriarchal desire.  Zwinger’s analysis of the sexual politics embodied in the figure of this sentimental daughter raises compelling critical and cultural issues.  Zwinger shows how different readings of Clarissa’s story form a sentimental composite that  makes her available in perpetuity to heterosexual desire.  Dombey and Son  illuminates the erotic dimension of the sentimental, the titillation always inherent in the spectacle of virtue in distress.  Zwinger’s analysis of Little Women  in the context of Louisa May Alcott’s own life-text focuses upon the problems of a daughter trying to write the filial romance.  The Golden Bowl deploys the daughter of sentiment as a “cover story” for a feminine version of the Oedipal story, founded on the daughter who can’t say yes, but doesn’t say no.  The Story of O reveals the pornographic dimension in romantic and sentimental love.
    In her conclusion, Zwinger offers an overview of the nineteenth-century novel, asking what difference it makes when the writer is a daughter.  She shows how the daughter’s family romance pictures the father as inadequate, ironically requiring the sentimental daughter as a patriarchal prop.  She develops a useful concept of hysteria and argues that generic “disorder” and hysterical “intrusions” mark the family romance novels of Jane Austen, Emily and Charlotte Brontë, and George Eliot.  And finally, she makes the case that the daughter’s choice to stay home is not necessarily an act of simple complicity,  for by staying home she comes as close as she can to disrupting the father-daughter romance.


front cover of The Detective as Historian
The Detective as Historian
History and Art in Historical Crime Fiction
Edited by Ray B. Browne and Lawrence A. Kreiser, Jr.; Preface by Robin W. Winks
University of Wisconsin Press, 2000
Readers of detective stories are turning more toward historical crime fiction to learn both what everyday life was like in past societies and how society coped with those who broke the laws and restrictions of the times. The crime fiction treated here ranges from ancient Egypt through classical Greece and Rome; from medieval and renaissance China and Europe through nineteenth-century England and America.
       Topics include: Ellis Peter’s Brother Cadfael; Umberto Eco’s Name of the Rose; Susanna Gregory’s Doctor Matthew Bartholomew; Peter Heck’s Mark Twain as detective; Anne Perry and her Victorian-era world; Caleb Carr’s works; and Elizabeth Peter’s Egyptologist-adventurer tales.

front cover of The Disobedient Writer
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.


front cover of Displacing Homophobia
Displacing Homophobia
Ronald R. Butters, John M. Clum, and Michael Moon, eds.
Duke University Press, 1989
The editors have gathered essays that not only make a major contribution to the effort to replace homophobic discourse, but also speak persuasively to all readers interested in literature or literary history, contemporary theory, and popular culture.

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