And No Birds Sing
Pauline Leader Gallaudet University Press, 2016 Library of Congress PS3523.E124Z46 2016 | Dewey Decimal 813.52
Originally published in 1931, this memoir offers an unflinching look at the life of a deaf woman struggling with poverty and isolation in the bohemian enclave of Greenwich Village. In harrowing yet lyrical prose, Pauline Leader recounts her experience growing up as the daughter of Jewish immigrants in a small New England mill town. Born in 1908, Leader was exposed to frequent verbal and physical abuse. She became deaf at the age of 12, following a long illness. As a teenager, she ran away to New York City, where she found work in factories and sweatshops, and spent time in a home for “wayward girls.” As she sought community among the artists and eccentrics of the Village, Leader’s strong will and fierce independence were often thwarted by hardship and self-doubt. But through it all she found solace in her writing.
This edition is accompanied by a new introduction and afterword that provide a scholarly framework for understanding Leader and her times. She persevered and became a published poet and novelist, often drawing on the experiences offered up here. Compelling and evocative, And No Birds Sing deftly reveals a complex, intelligent spirit toiling in a brutal world.
From the book:
I insisted to myself that I could still hear. I heard in my mind the sounds of streams as I passed them. I knew the sound the river made, that river that I had known always, the river by the marble house. In my mind the river washed with a low intimate sound. I had no need to hear as the people heard. True intimacy needs no ears. I knew the sound of birds; I heard them as they hopped about. I knew the sound of words also. It was words that I most intensely heard. I had not always the river and the birds—they appeared far away at times. I did not always want river and birds, but I always wanted words, and I always had them. I would have been terribly lonely without them. With them always in my mind, I could not be truly lonely. I played with them; I set them to music; I achieved endless variations with them. They were never weary, as other things could sometimes be weary.
“In this inviting blend of biography and memoir, novelist Otto (How to Make an American Quilt) examines her life in terms of the women artists who influenced her.…Otto provides a fascinating tour of art through the lens of her own experience. Creatives of all sorts will enjoy [her] wide-ranging insights.” —Publishers Weekly
In Art for the Ladylike, Whitney Otto limns the lives of eight pioneering women photographers—Sally Mann, Imogen Cunningham, Judy Dater, Ruth Orkin, Tina Modotti, Lee Miller, Madame Yvonne, and Grete Stern—to in turn excavate her own writer’s life. The result is an affecting exploration of what it means to be a woman, what it means to be an artist, and the perils and rewards of being both at once. In considering how feminism, career, and motherhood were entangled throughout her subjects’ lives as they tirelessly sought to render their visions and paved the way for others creating within the bounds of domesticity, Otto assesses her own struggles with balancing writing and the pulls of home life. Ultimately, she ponders the persistent question that artistic women face in a world that devalues women’s ambition: If what we love is what we are, how do those of us with multiple loves forge lives with room for everything?
Agents or victims, liberated or oppressed, "bad girls" or "good girls." What do these labels mean and do they further or hinder women's progress? How are today's visions of female sexuality and power like or unlike those of the past? How do younger women define feminism? Isn't the personal still political?
Dismayed by the media's tendency to reduce the feminist enterprise to labels and superstars, Donna Perry and Nan Bauer Maglin decided to find out what a diverse group of feminists think about women, sex, and power in the nineties. The result is a provocative and varied collection of twenty-four essays by second- and third-wave feminists; artists and activists; professors and graduate students; professional journalists and just-published writers; mothers and daughters. By focusing on society's construction, containment, and exploitation of female sexuality, in particular, these essays offer fresh perspectives on women's agency or lack of it.
The contributors focus on the oversimplifications and false dichotomies in current discussions of female sexuality, as well as the privileged perspective and individualism that currently dominate the popularized feminist message. Individual writers--including Emma Amos, bell hooks, Ann Jones, Lisa Jones, Paula Kamen, Matuschka, Marge Piercy, Katha Pollitt, Anna Quindlen, Elayne Rapping, Lillian S. Robinson, and Ellen Willis--reexamine women's empowerment in the light of issues like AIDS, battering, acquaintance rape, narratives of childhood sexual abuse, and pornography. Several draw political conclusions from their personal struggles, while others read stories and texts--from history, the art world, the media, popular culture, and social science research--in new and controversial ways.
From Publishers Weekly
In these 20 interviews with women writers of fiction, Jordan, who teaches at Hampton University in Virginia, attempts to plumb the relations between black and white women in fiction and in life, and to explore the creative process. Although the book suffers from lengthy discussions of somewhat obscure work, the interviewees, most of whom have portrayed female characters of a race other than their own, offer intriguing, often conflicting observations about the primacy of race, gender or class. Kaye Gibbons ( Ellen Foster ) suggests that rural locations offer commonality to black and white Southern women; Marita Golden ( Long Distance Life ) observes that white writers emphasize female beauty while black writers focus on character. This book may be a useful supplement to literature courses.
From Library Journal
The message derived from the candid and articulate women interviewed here is, as Belva Plain states, "you learn as you live together." Editor Jordan (Hampton Univ., Virginia) has opened a dialog on writing and race relations by publishing these interviews with 20 significant contemporary black and white women writers, from Alice Childress and Joyce Carol Oates to Mildred Pitts Walker. The substance of these writers' thoughts is that the commonality of women's experience informs the genuine portrayal of a character as much as does the writer's understanding of her blackness or whiteness. This special book, so different from others that examine the writing process, is likely to stimulate dialog among women and to provoke serious study of many excellent women writers working today. Recommended for all collections supporting the study of literature, women's studies, and race relations.
Karin Rosa Ikas offers probing and insightful interviews with ten Chicana writers of diverse backgrounds: Denise Chávez, Gloria Anzaldúa, Lucha Corpi, Cherríe Moraga, Lorna Dee Cervantes, Mary Helen Ponce, Jamie Lujan, Demetria Martinez, Estela Portillo-Trambley, and Pat Mora. The interviews address such topics as personal background, education, sense of ethnic and gender identity, the origins and intention of published works, and general views on writing, culture, and art, revealing a rich multiplicity of Chicana voices and views in diverse genres including poetry, drama, and fiction. For each of these women, though, her identity as a Chicana and as a woman is critically important to her evolution and purpose as a writer. Chicana Ways documents the rich diversity and brilliance of contemporary Mexican American writing and is essential reading for anyone interested in multicultural and feminist literature.
The follow-up volume to Mazza and DeShell’s hugely popularChick-Lit: Postfeminist Fiction
Chick-Lit 2: No Chick Vics features new work by Rikki Ducornet, Eurydice, Elizabeth Graver, Ursule Molinaro, and fourteen other witty and deadly serious writers.
Chick-Lit 2 discovers new and alternative voices in women’s fiction whose stories do not involve trauma that comes from the outside. As Mazza writes in her introduction, “Sexual assaults and harassments and injurious poor body images do exist and have waged a war on women (the American Medical Association says so). But for this book, I was interested in seeing what action(s) women characters can incite on their own, whether bad or good, hopeful or dead-end, progressive or destructive.”
An exciting addition to the ongoing debate about the place of regionalism in American literary history.
American regionalism has become a contested subject in literary studies alongside the ubiquitous triad of race, class, and gender. The Color of Democracy in Women's Regional Writing enters into the heart of an ongoing debate in the field about the significance of regional fiction at the end of the 19th century. Jean Griffith presents the innovative view that regional writing provided Edith Wharton, Ellen Glasgow, and Willa Cather with the means to explore social transformation in a form of fiction already closely associated with women readers and writers.
Griffith provides new readings of texts by these authors; she places them alongside the works of their contemporaries, including William Faulkner and Langston Hughes, to show regionalism's responses to the debate over who was capable of democratic participation and reading regionalism's changing mediations between natives and strangers as reflections of the changing face of democracy.
This insightful work enriches the current debate about whether regionalism critiques hierarchies or participates in nationalist and racist agendas and will be of great interest to those invested in regional writing or the works of these significant authors.
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.
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.
In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the majority of women were forced to seek their education outside the walls of American universities. Many turned to museums and libraries, for their own enlightenment, for formal education, and also for their careers. In Roffman’s close readings of four modernist writers—Edith Wharton, Nella Larsen, Marianne Moore, and Ruth Benedict—she studied the that modernist women writers were simultaneously critical of and shaped by these institutions.
From the Modernist Annex offers new and critically significant ways of understanding these writers and their texts, the distribution of knowledge, and the complicated place of women in modernist institutions.
Writer, editor, journalist, educator, feminist, conversationalist, and reformer Margaret Fuller (1810–1850) was one of the leading intellectuals of nineteenth-century America as well as a prominent member of Concord literary circles. Yet the challenging spirit behind her intellectual confidence and mesmerizing energy led to the invention of an unbalanced legacy that denied her a place among the canonical Concord writers. This collection of first-hand reminiscences by those who knew Fuller personally rescues her from these confusions and provides a clearer identity for this misrepresented personality.
The forty-one remembrances from Nathaniel Hawthorne, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thomas Carlyle, Harriet Martineau, Henry James, and twenty-four others chart Fuller’s expanding influence from schooldays in Boston, meetings at the Transcendental Club, teaching in Providence and Boston, work on the New York Tribune, publications and conversations, travels in the British Isles, and life and love in Italy before her tragic early death. Joel Myerson’s perceptive introduction assesses the pre- and postmortem building of Fuller’s reputation as well as her relationship to the prominent Transcendentalists, reformers, literati, and other personalities of her time, and his headnotes to each selection present valuable connecting contexts.
The woman who admitted that “at nineteen she was the most intolerable girl that ever took a seat in a drawing-room,” whose Woman in the Nineteenth Century is considered the first major book-length feminist call to action in America, never conformed to nineteenth-century expectations of self-effacing womanhood. The fascinating contradictions revealed by these narratives create a lively, lifelike biography of Fuller’s “rare gifts and solid acquirements . . . and unfailing intellectual sympathy.”
"The question of souls is old; we demand our bodies, now." These words are not from a feminist manifesto of the late twentieth century, but from a fiery speech given a hundred years earlier by Voltairine de Cleyre, a leading anarchist and radical thinker. A contemporary of Emma Goldman---who called her "the most gifted and brilliant anarchist woman America ever produced"---de Cleyre was a significant force in a major social movement that sought to transform American society and culture at its root. But she belongs to a group of late-nineteenth-century freethinkers, anarchists, and sex-radicals whose writing continues to be excluded from the U.S. literary and historical canon.
Gates of Freedom considers de Cleyre's speeches, letters, and essays, including her most well known essay, "Sex Slavery." Part I brings current critical concerns to bear on de Cleyre's writings, exploring her contributions to the anarchist movement, her analyses of justice and violence, and her views on women, sexuality, and the body. Eugenia DeLamotte demonstrates both de Cleyre's literary significance and the importance of her work to feminist theory, women's studies, literary and cultural studies, U.S. history, and contemporary social and cultural analysis. Part II presents a thematically organized selection of de Cleyre's stirring writings, making Gates of Freedom appealing to scholars, students, and anyone interested in Voltairine de Cleyre's fascinating life and rousing work.
Eugenia C. DeLamotte is Associate Professor of English, Arizona State University.
The Masses was the most dynamic and influential left-wing magazine of the early twentieth century, a touchstone for understanding radical thought and social movements in the United States during that era. As a magazine that supported feminist issues, it played a crucial role in shaping public discourse about women's concerns. Women editors, fiction writers, poets, and activists like Mary Heaton Vorse, Louise Bryant, Adriana Spadoni, Elsie Clews Parsons, Inez Haynes Gillmore, and Helen Hull contributed as significantly to the magazine as better-known male figures.
In this major revisionist work, Margaret C. Jones calls for reexamination of the relevance of Masses feminism to that of the 1990s. She explores women contributors' perspectives on crucial issues: patriarchy, birth control, the labor movement, woman suffrage, pacifism, and ethnicity. The book includes numerous examples of the writings and visual art of Masses women and a series of biographical/bibliographical sketches designed to aid other researchers.
Dionisia Morales Oregon State University Press, 2018 Library of Congress PS3613.O6655A6 2018 | Dewey Decimal 814.6
As a native New Yorker who now calls Oregon home, Dionisia Morales knows how moving and resettling can spark an identity crisis relative to geography, family, and tradition. The essays collected in Homing Instincts explore how Morales’s conception of home plays out in her daily life, as she navigates the gap between where she is and the stories she tells herself about where she belongs.
Although Morales migrated from one North American coast to another, the questions she raises are relevant to migrations of any scale and place, whether across town or around the world. What does it mean to be a newcomer? Who has the right to claim a sense of place? What is gained or lost when we try to fit in? In a world where people are migrating more than ever for social, economic, personal, and political reasons, these questions take on a new urgency.
A wife and mother as well as a professional writer and editor, Morales writes with grace and resolve about a broad range of topics, including pregnancy, people watching, rock climbing, and bee colony collapse. She channels a spirit of adventure and adaptability while acknowledging how certain habits and mindsets are indelibly ingrained and are—like it or not—forever part of where, what, and who we call home.
As issues of migration and social integration play out in national and international politics, Morales provides a personal lens through which readers can appreciate that at one time or another we have all been in the process of arriving. Homing Instincts is a remarkable debut from a gifted prose stylist. It will be warmly received by lovers of the essay form and anyone who has sought, or still seeks, a place to call home.
How to Suppress Women's Writing
By Joanna Russ; foreword by Jessa Crispin University of Texas Press, 2018 Library of Congress PN471.R87 2018 | Dewey Decimal 809.89287
Are women able to achieve anything they set their minds to? In How to Suppress Women’s Writing, award-winning novelist and scholar Joanna Russ lays bare the subtle—and not so subtle—strategies that society uses to ignore, condemn, or belittle women who produce literature. As relevant today as when it was first published in 1983, this book has motivated generations of readers with its powerful feminist critique.
“What is it going to take to break apart these rigidities? Russ’s book is a formidable attempt. It is angry without being self-righteous, it is thorough without being exhausting, and it is serious without being devoid of a sense of humor. But it was published over thirty years ago, in 1983, and there’s not an enormous difference between the world she describes and the world we inhabit.”
—Jessa Crispin, from the foreword
“A book of the most profound and original clarity. Like all clear-sighted people who look and see what has been much mystified and much lied about, Russ is quite excitingly subversive. The study of literature should never be the same again.”
“Joanna Russ is a brilliant writer, a writer of real moral passion and high wit.”
One of the Lost Generation modernists who gathered in 1920s Paris, Kay Boyle published more than forty books, including fifteen novels, eleven collections of short fiction, eight volumes of poetry, three children's books, and various essays and translations. Yet her achievement can be even better appreciated through her letters to the literary and cultural titans of her time.
<p>Kay Boyle shared the first issue of <i>This Quarter</i> with Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway, expressed her struggles with poetry to William Carlos Williams and voiced warm admiration to Katherine Anne Porter, fled WWII France with Max Ernst and Peggy Guggenheim, socialized with the likes of James Joyce, Marcel Duchamp, and Samuel Beckett, and went to jail with Joan Baez. The letters in this first-of-its-kind collection, authorized by Boyle herself, bear witness to a transformative era illuminated by genius and darkened by Nazism and the Red Scare. Yet they also serve as milestones on the journey of a woman who possessed a gift for intense and enduring friendship, a passion for social justice, and an artistic brilliance that earned her inclusion among the celebrated figures in her ever-expanding orbit.
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.The WritersMary Elizabeth Braddon, Mary Cholmondeley, Mary Chavelita Dunne Bright [George Egerton], Rhoda Broughton, Marie Corelli, Rebecca Harding Davis, Mary Abigail Dodge [Gail Hamilton], Jessie Redmon Fauset, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Mary St. Leger Kingsley Harrison [Lucas Malet], Annesley Kenealy, Palma Pederson, Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, Henrietta Stannard, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Rosamund Marriott Watson [Graham R. Tomson]
Leaving the Pink House
Ladette Randolph University of Iowa Press, 2014 Library of Congress PS3618.A644Z46 2014 | Dewey Decimal 818.603
Ladette Randolph understands her life best through the houses she has inhabited. From the isolated farmhouse of her childhood, to the series of houses her family occupied in small towns across Nebraska as her father pursued his dream of becoming a minister, to the equally small houses she lived in as a single mother and graduate student, houses have shaped her understanding of her place in the world and served as touchstones for a life marked by both constancy and endless cycles of change.
On September 12, 2001, Randolph and her husband bought a dilapidated farmhouse on twenty acres outside Lincoln, Nebraska, and set about gutting and rebuilding the house themselves. They had nine months to complete the work. The project, undertaken at a time of national unrest and uncertainty, led Randolph to reflect on the houses of her past and the stages of her life that played out in each, both painful and joyful. As the couple struggles to bring the dilapidated house back to life, Randolph simultaneously traces the contours of a life deeply shaped by the Nebraska plains, where her family has lived for generations, and how those roots helped her find the strength to overcome devastating losses as a young adult. Weaving together strands of departures and arrivals, new houses and deep roots, cycles of change and the cycles of the seasons, Leaving the Pink House is a richly layered and compelling memoir of the meaning of home and family, and how they can never really leave us, even if we leave them.
Committed to the struggle for civil rights, in the late 1950s Joan Steinau marched and protested as a white ally and young woman coming to terms with her own racism. She fell in love and married a fellow activist, the Black writer Julius Lester, establishing a partnership that was long and multifaceted but not free of the politics of race and gender. As the women’s movement dawned, feminism helped Lester find her voice, her pansexuality, and the courage to be herself.
Braiding intellectual, personal, and political history, Lester tells the story of a writer and activist fighting for love and justice before, during, and after the Supreme Court’s 1967 decision striking down bans on interracial marriage in Loving v. Virginia. She describes her own shifts in consciousness, from an activist climbing police barricades by day and reading and writing late into the night to a woman navigating the coming-out process in midlife, before finding the publishing success she had dreamed of. Speaking candidly about every facet of her life, Lester illuminates her journey to fulfillment and healing.
A compelling biography of Lydia Maria Child, one of nineteenth-century America’s most courageous abolitionists.
By 1830, Lydia Maria Child had established herself as something almost unheard of in the American nineteenth century: a beloved and self-sufficient female author. Best known today for the immortal poem “Over the River and through the Wood,” Child had become famous at an early age for spunky self-help books and charming children’s stories. But in 1833, Child shocked her readers by publishing the first book-length argument against slavery in the United States—a book so radical in its commitment to abolition that friends abandoned her, patrons ostracized her, and her book sales plummeted. Yet Child soon drew untold numbers to the abolitionist cause, becoming one of the foremost authors and activists of her generation.
Lydia Maria Child: A Radical American Life tells the story of what brought Child to this moment and the extraordinary life she lived in response. Through Child’s example, philosopher Lydia Moland asks questions as pressing and personal in our time as they were in Child’s: What does it mean to change your life when the moral future of your country is at stake? When confronted by sanctioned evil and systematic injustice, how should a citizen live? Child’s lifetime of bravery, conviction, humility, and determination provides a wealth of spirited guidance for political engagement today.
Emma Bell Miles (1879–1919) was a gifted writer, poet, naturalist, and artist with a keen perspective on Appalachian life and culture. She and her husband Frank lived on Walden’s Ridge in southeast Tennessee, where they struggled to raise a family in the difficult mountain environment. Between 1908 and 1918, Miles kept a series of journals in which she recorded in beautiful and haunting prose the natural wonders and local customs of Walden’s Ridge. Jobs were scarce, however, and as the family’s financial situation deteriorated, Miles began to sell literary works and paintings to make ends meet. Her short stories appeared in national magazines such as Harper’s Monthly and Lippincott’s, and in 1905 she published Spirit of the Mountains, a nonfiction book about southern Appalachia. After the death of her three-year-old son from scarlet fever in 1913, the journals took a more somber turn as Miles documented the difficulties of mountain life, the plight of women in rural communities, the effect of disparities of class and wealth, and her own struggle with tuberculosis.
Previously examined only by a handful of scholars, the journals contain both poignant and incisive accounts of nature and a woman’s perspective on love and marriage, death customs, child raising, medical care, and subsistence on the land in southern Appalachia in the early twentieth century. With a foreword by Elizabeth S. D. Engelhardt, this edited selection of Emma Bell Miles’s journals is illustrated with examples of her painting.
The American literary canon has been the subject of debate and change for at least a decade. As women writers and writers of color are being rediscovered and acclaimed, the question of whether they are worthy of inclusion remains open.
The (Other) American Traditions brings together for the first time in one place, essays on individual writers and traditions that begin to ask the harder questions. How do we talk about these writers once we get beyond the historical issues? How is their work related to their male counterparts? How is it similar: how is it different? Are differences related to gender or race or class? How has the selection of books in the literary canon (Melville, Hawthorne, Emerson, and James) led to a definition of the American tradition that was calculated to exclude women? Do we need a new critical vocabulary to discuss these works? Should we stop talking about a tradition and begin to talk about many traditions? How did black American women writers develop strategies for speaking out when they were doubly in jeopardy of being ignored as blacks and as women? The volume offers irrefutable proof that the writers, the critics who work on their texts, all these questions, and the expansion of the canon matter very much indeed.
Contributors: Nina Baym, Deborah Carlin, Joanne Dobson, Josephine Donovan, Judith Fetterley, Frances Smith Foster, Susan K. Harris, Karla F.C. Holloway, Paul Lauter, Diane Lichtenstein, Carla L. Peterson, Carol J. Singley, Jane Tompkins, Joyce W. Warren and Sandra A. Zagarell.
Examining an eclectic group of western women’s autobiographical texts—canonical and otherwise—Playing House in the American West argues for a distinct regional literary tradition characterized by strategic representations of unconventional domestic life.
The controlling metaphor Cathryn Halverson uses in her engrossing study is “playing house.” From Caroline Kirkland and Laura Ingalls Wilder to Willa Cather and Marilynne Robinson, from the mid-nineteenth to the late-twentieth centuries, western authors have persistently embraced wayward or eccentric housekeeping to prove a woman’s difference from western neighbors and eastern readers alike.
The readings in Playing House investigate the surprising textual ends to which westerners turn the familiar terrain of the home: evaluating community; arguing for different conceptions of race and class; and perhaps most especially, resisting traditional gender roles. Western women writers, Halverson argues, render the home as a stage for autonomy, resistance, and imagination rather than as a site of sacrifice and obligation.
The western women examined in Playing House in the American West are promoted and read as representatives of a region, as insiders offering views of distant and intriguing ways of life, even as they conceive of themselves as outsiders. By playing with domestic conventions, they recast the region they describe, portraying the West as a place that fosters female agency, individuality, and subjectivity.
Rebecca Harding Davis is best known for her gritty short story “Life in the Iron-Mills,” set in her native Wheeling, West Virginia. Far less is known of her later career among elite social circles in Philadelphia, New York, and Europe, or her relationships with American presidents and leading international figures in the worlds of literature and the stage. In the first book-length biography of Davis, Sharon M. Harris traces the extraordinary life of this pioneering realist and recovers her status as one of America’s notable women journalists. Harris also examines Rebecca’s role as the leading member of the Davis family, a unique and nationally recognized family of writers that shaped the changing culture of later nineteenth-century literature and journalism.
This accessible treatment of Davis’s life, based on deep research in archival sources, provides new perspective on topics ranging from sectional tensions in the border South to the gendered world of nineteenth-century publishing. It promises to be the authoritative treatment of an important figure in the literary history of West Virginia and the wider world.
Whether in the public realm as political activists, artists, teachers, biographers, editors, and writers or in the more traditional role of domestic, nurturing women, Elizabeth Peabody, Mary Peabody Mann, and Sophia Peabody Hawthorne subverted rigid nineteenth-century definitions of women’s limited realm of influence. Reinventing the Peabody Sisters seeks to redefine this dynamic trio’s relationship to the literary and political movements of the mid nineteenth century. Previous scholarship has romanticized, vilified, or altogether erased their influences and literary productions or viewed these individuals solely in light of their relationships to other nineteenth-century luminaries, particularly men---Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Horace Mann. This collection underscores that each woman was a creative force in her own right. Despite their differences and sibling conflicts, all three sisters thrived in the rarefied---if economically modest---atmosphere of a childhood household that glorified intellectual and artistic pursuits. This background allowed each woman to negotiate the nineteenth-century literary marketplace and in the process redefine its scope. Elizabeth, Mary, and Sophia remained linked throughout their lives, encouraging, complementing, and sometimes challenging each other’s endeavors while also contributing to each other’s literary work. The essays in this collection examine the sisters’ confrontations with and involvement in the intellectual movements and social conflicts of the nineteenth century, including Transcendentalism, the Civil War, the role of women, international issues, slavery, Native American rights, and parenting. Among the most revealing writings that the sisters left behind, however, are those which explore the interlaced relationship that continued throughout their remarkable lives.
In response to the resurgence of interest in American novelist, poet, short-story writer, and newspaper correspondent Elizabeth Stoddard (1823–1902), whose best-known work is The Morgesons (1862), Jennifer Putzi and Elizabeth Stockton spent years locating, reading, and sorting through more than 700 letters scattered across eighteen different archives, finally choosing eighty-four letters to annotate and include in this collection. By presenting complete, annotated transcripts, The Selected Letters provides a fascinating introduction to this compelling writer, while at the same time complicating earlier representations of her as either a literary handmaiden to her at-the-time more famous husband, the poet Richard Henry Stoddard, or worse, as the “Pythoness” whose difficult personality made her a fickle and unreasonable friend.
The Stoddards belonged to New York's vibrant, close-knit literary and artistic circles. Among their correspondents were both family members and friends including writers and editors such as Julia Caroline Ripley Dorr, Rufus Griswold, James Russell Lowell, Caroline Healey Dall, Julian Hawthorne, William Dean Howells, Helen Hunt Jackson, Edmund Clarence Stedman, and Margaret Sweat.
An innovative and unique writer, Stoddard eschewed the popular sentimentality of her time even while exploring the emotional territory of relations between the sexes. Her writing—in both her published fiction and her personal letters—is surprisingly modern and psychologically dense. The letters are highly readable, lively, and revealing, even to readers who know little of her literary output or her life.
As scholars of epistolarity have recently argued, letters provide more than just a biographical narrative; they also should be understood as aesthetic performances themselves. The correspondence provides a sense of Stoddard as someone who understood letter writing as a distinct and important literary genre, making this collection particularly well suited for new conceptualizations of the epistolary genre.
“You’ll call this sentimental—perhaps—but then a dog somehow represents the private side of life, the play side,” Virginia Woolf confessed to a friend. In this charming and engaging book, Maureen Adams celebrates this private, playful side telling readers about the relationships between five remarkable women writers and their dogs.
In Shaggy Muses, Adams explores the work and lives of these authors through the various roles played by their most devoted companions. Elizabeth Barrett Browning was rescued from a life of passivity and illness by Flush, a lively, possessive (and frequently dog-napped!) golden Cocker Spaniel. Emily Brontë’s fierce Mastiff mix, Keeper, provided a safe and loving outlet for the writer’s equally fierce spirit. Emily Dickinson found companionship with Carlo, the gentle, giant Newfoundland who soothed her emotional terrors. A troop of ever-faithful Pekingese warmed Edith Wharton’s lonely heart during her restless travels among Europe and America’s social and intellectual elite. And Virginia Woolf developed a deep attachment to Pinka, a black Cocker Spaniel who was both gift from her lover, Vita Sackville-West, and a link to her husband Leonard.
Based on diaries, letters, and other contemporary accounts—and featuring many illustrations of the writers and their dogs—these five miniature biographies allow unparalleled intimacy with women of genius in their hours of domestic ease and inner vulnerability.
In 1955, Maxine Kumin submitted a poem to the Saturday Evening Post. “Lines on a Half-Painted House” made it into the magazine—but not before Kumin was asked to produce, via her husband’s employer, verification that the poem was her original work.
Kumin, who went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for poetry, was part of a groundbreaking generation of women writers who came of age during the midcentury feminist movement. By challenging the status quo and ultimately finding success for themselves, they paved the way for future generations of writers. In A Story Larger than My Own, Janet Burroway brings together Kumin, Julia Alvarez, Jane Smiley, Erica Jong, and fifteen other accomplished women of this generation to reflect on their writing lives.
The essays and poems featured in this collection illustrate that even writers who achieve critical and commercial success experience a familiar pattern of highs and lows over the course of their careers. Along with success comes the pressure to sustain it, as well as a constant search for subject matter, all too frequent crises of confidence, the challenges of a changing publishing scene, and the difficulty of combining writing with the ordinary stuff of life—family, marriage, jobs. The contributors, all now over the age of sixty, also confront the effects of aging, with its paradoxical duality of new limitations and newfound freedom.
Taken together, these stories offer advice from experience to writers at all stages of their careers and serve as a collective memoir of a truly remarkable generation of women.
Has a stunning surprise or lucky encounter ever propelled you in an unanticipated direction? Are you doing what you always thought you would be doing with your life or has some unseen magnetism changed your course? And has that redirection come to seem inevitable? Edie Meidav and Emmalie Dropkin asked leading contemporary writers to consider these questions, which they characterize through the metaphor of "the strange attractor," a scientific theory describing an inevitable occurrence that arises out of chaos. Meidav's introduction and the thirty-five pieces collected here offer imaginative, arresting, and memorable replies to this query, including guidance from a yellow fish, a typewriter repairman, a cat, a moose, a bicycle, and a stranger on a train. Absorbing and provocative, this is nonfiction to be read in batches and bursts and returned to again and again.
Susan Sontag: A Biography
Daniel Schreiber; Translated from the German by David Dollenmayer Northwestern University Press, 2014 Library of Congress PS3569.O6547Z87913 2014 | Dewey Decimal 818.5409
Susan Sontag (1933–2004) was one of America’s first celebrity intellectuals. In the first biography to be published since her death, Daniel Schreiber portrays a glamorous woman full of contradictions and inner conflicts, whose life mirrored the cultural upheavals of her time.
While known primarily as a cultural critic and novelist, Sontag was also a filmmaker, stage director, and dramatist. It was her status as a pop icon that was unusual for an American intellectual: she was filmed by Andy Warhol and Woody Allen, photographed by Annie Leibovitz and Diane Arbus, and her likeness adorned advertisements for Absolut vodka. Drawing on newly available sources, including interviews with Nadine Gordimer, Robert Wilson, and Sontag’s son, David Rieff, as well as on myriad interviews given by Sontag and her extensive correspondence with her friend and publisher Roger Straus, Schreiber explores the roles that Sontag played in influencing American public cultural and political conversations.
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.
Thinking Outside the Book
Augusta Rohrbach University of Massachusetts Press, 2014 Library of Congress PS149.R64 2014 | Dewey Decimal 810.9928709034
In Thinking Outside the Book, Augusta Rohrbach works through the increasing convergences between digital humanities and literary studies to explore the meaning and primacy of the book as a literary, material, and cultural artifact. Rohrbach assembles a rather unlikely cohort of nineteenth-century women writers—Jane Johnston Schoolcraft, Sojourner Truth, Hannah Crafts, Augusta Evans, and Mary Chesnut—to consider the publishing culture of their period from the perspective of our current digital age, bringing together scholarly concepts from both print culture and new media studies.
In nineteenth-century America, women from a variety of racial and class affiliations were bombarding the print market with their literary productions, taking advantage of burgeoning rates of literacy and advances in publishing technology. Their work challenged prevailing modes of authorship and continues to do so today. Each chapter of Thinking Outside the Book positions a focal figure as both paradigmatic and problematic within the context of key terms that define the study of the book. In lieu of terms such as literacy, authorship, publication, edition, and editor, Rohrbach develops an alternate typology that includes mediation, memory, history, testimony, and loss. Recognizing that the field spans radio, cinema, television, and the Internet, she draws comparisons to the present day, when Web 2.0 allows writers from varying backgrounds and positions to seek out readers without "gatekeepers" limiting their exposure.
More than a literary history, this book takes up theories of recovery, literacy, authorship, narrative, the book, and new media in connection with race, gender, class, and region.
In Tillie Olsen: One Woman, Many Riddles, Panthea Reid examines the complex life of this iconic feminist hero and twentieth-century literary giant.
Born in Omaha, Nebraska, Tillie Olsen spent her young adulthood there, in Kansas City, and in Faribault, Minnesota. She relocated to California in 1933 and lived most of her life in San Francisco. From 1962 on, she sojourned frequently in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Santa Cruz, and Soquel, California. She was a 1920s "hell-cat"; a 1930s revolutionary; an early 1940s crusader for equal pay for equal work and a war-relief patriot; an ex-GI's ideal wife in the later 1940s; a victim of FBI surveillance in the 1950s;a civil rights and antiwar advocate during the 1960s and 1970s; and a life-long orator for universal human rights.
The enigma of Tillie Olsen is intertwined with that of the twentieth century. From the rebellions in Czarist Russia, through the terrors of the Depression and the hopes of the New Deal, to World War II, the Nuremberg Trials, and the United Nations' founding, to the cold war and House Un-American Activities Committee hearings, to later progressive and repressive movements, the story of Olsen's life brings remote events into focus.
In her classic short story "I Stand Here Ironing" and her groundbreaking Tell Me a Riddle, Yonnondido, and Silences, Olsen scripted powerful, moving prose about ordinary people's lives, exposing the pervasive effects of sexism, racism, and classism and elevating motherhood and women's creativity into topics of study. Popularly referred to as "Saint Tillie," Olsen was hailed by many as the mother of modern feminism.
Based on diaries, letters, manuscripts, private documents, resurrected public records, and countless interviews, Reid's artfully crafted biography untangles some of the puzzling knots of the last century's triumphs and failures and speaks truth to legend, correcting fabrications and myths about and also by Tillie Olsen.
In this volume, fifteen scholars from diverse backgrounds analyze American women writers' transatlantic exchanges in the nineteenth century. They show how women writers (and often their publications) traveled to create or reinforce professional networks and identities, to escape strictures on women and African Americans, to promote reform, to improve their health, to understand the workings of other nations, and to pursue cultural and aesthetic education. Presenting new material about women writers' literary friendships, travels, reception and readership, and influences, the volume offers new frameworks for thinking about transatlantic literary studies.
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.
In this original and intriguing study, Anna Linzie examines three mid-twentieth-century texts never before treated as interrelated in a book-length work of literary criticism: Gertrude Stein's The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (1933) and Alice B. Toklas's The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book (1954) and What Is Remembered (1963). Taking these three texts as intertexts or as an assemblage of the true story of Alice B. Toklas, Linzie challenges assumptions about primary authorship and singular identity that have continued to limit lesbian and feminist rereadings of autobiography as a genre and of Stein and Toklas as writers and historical figures.The True Story of Alice B. Toklas explores how the concept of autobiography as a primarily referential genre is challenged and transformed in relation to autobiographical texts written about the same person, the same life, but differently, by different writers, at different points in time. The concept of one true story is deconstructed in the process as Linzie modifies Homi K. Bhabha's “almost the same but not quite/not white” for the purposes of this particular study as “almost the same but not quite/not straight.” The investigation moves simultaneously on the planes of textuality and sexuality in order to provisionally articulate a “lesbian autobiographical subject” in Linzie's reading of these three texts.Linzie's study fills a gap in literary criticism where Stein's companion and her work have been more or less neglected, conceptualizing the Stein-Toklas sexual/textual relationship as fundamentally reciprocal. The True Story of Alice B. Toklas provides a new critical perspective on Toklas as indispensable to Stein's literary production, a cultural laborer in her own right, and a writer of her own books. Making a significant contribution to recent lesbian/feminist reconceptualizations of the genre of autobiography, this study will fascinate Stein and Toklas scholars as well as those interested in queer and autobiography studies.
Folklorist Wayland Hand once called Mary Alicia Owen “the most famous American Woman Folklorist of her time.” Drawing on primary sources, such as maps, census records, court documents, personal letters and periodicals, and the scholarship of others who have analyzed various components of Owen’s multifaceted career, historian Greg Olson offers the most complete account of her life and work to date. He also offers a critical look at some of the short stories Owen penned, sometimes under the name Julia Scott, and discusses how the experience she gained as a fiction writer helped lead her to a successful career in folklore.
Olson begins with an in-depth look at St. Joseph, Missouri, the place where Owen lived most of her life. He explores the role that her grandparents and parents had in transforming the small trading village into one of the American West’s most exciting boomtowns. He also examines the family’s position of affluence and the effect that the devastation of the Civil War had on their family life and their standing within the community. He describes the interaction of Owen with her two younger sisters, both of whom had interesting and, for women of the time, unconventional careers.
Olson analyzes many of the nineteenth-century theories, stereotypes, and popular beliefs that influenced the work of Owen and many of her peers. By taking a cross-disciplinary look at her works of fiction, poetry, folklore, history, and anthropology, this volume sheds new light on elements of Owen’s career that have not previously been discussed in print. Examples of the romance stories that Owen wrote for popular magazines in the 1880’s are identified and examined in the context of the time in which Owen wrote them.
This groundbreaking biography shows that Owen was more than just a folklorist—she was a nineteenth-century woman of many contradictions. She was an independent woman of many interests who possessed a keen intellect and a genuine interest in people and their stories. Specialists in folklore, anthropology, women’s studies, local and regional history, and Missouriana will find much to like in this thoroughly researched study.
Women, Autobiography, Theory: A Reader
Edited by Sidonie A. Smith and Julia Watson University of Wisconsin Press, 1998 Library of Congress PS366.A88W636 1998 | Dewey Decimal 818.540809492072
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.
Women readers, editors, librarians, authors, journalists, booksellers, and others are the subjects in this stimulating new collection on modern print culture. The essays feature women like Marie Mason Potts, editor of Smoke Signals, a mid-twentieth century periodical of the Federated Indians of California; Lois Waisbrooker, publisher of books and journals on female sexuality and women's rights in the decades after the Civil War; and Elizabeth Jordan, author of two novels and editor of Harper's Bazaar from 1900 to 1913. The volume presents a complex and engaging picture of print culture and of the forces that affected women's lives in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Published in collaboration among the University of Wisconsin Press, the Center for the History of Print Culture in Modern America (a joint program of the University of Wisconsin–Madison and the Wisconsin Historical Society), and the University of Wisconsin–Madison General Library System Office of Scholarly Communication.
Women Writers of the American West, 1833–1927 recovers the names and works of hundreds of women who wrote about the American West during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, some of them long forgotten and others better known novelists, poets, memoirists, and historians such as Willa Cather and Mary Austin Holley. Nina Baym mined literary and cultural histories, anthologies, scholarly essays, catalogs, advertisements, and online resources to debunk critical assumptions that women did not publish about the West as much as they did about other regions. Elucidating a substantial body of nearly 650 books of all kinds by more than 300 writers, Baym reveals how the authors showed women making lives for themselves in the West, how they represented the diverse region, and how they represented themselves.
Baym accounts for a wide range of genres and geographies, affirming that the literature of the West was always more than cowboy tales and dime novels. Nor did the West consist of a single landscape, as women living in the expanses of Texas saw a different world from that seen by women in gold rush California. Although many women writers of the American West accepted domestic agendas crucial to the development of families, farms, and businesses, they also found ways to be forceful agents of change, whether by taking on political positions, deriding male arrogance, or, as their voluminous published works show, speaking out when they were expected to be silent.