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Nineteenth-Century American Women's Novels : Interpretative Strategies - Susan K. Harris

Nineteenth-Century American Women's Novels

Interpretative Strategies

Paperback

Published: 24th August 1992
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This study proposes interpretive strategies for nineteenth-century American women's novels. Harris contends that women in the nineteenth century read subversively, 'processing texts according to gender based imperatives'. Beginning with Susannah Rowson's best-selling seduction novel Charlotte Temple (1791), and ending with Willa Cather's O Pioneers (1913), Harris scans white, middle-class women's writing throughout the nineteenth century. In the process she both explores reading behaviour and formulates a literary history for mainstream nineteenth-century American women's fiction. Through most of the twentieth century, women's novels of the earlier period have been denigrated as conventional, sentimental, and overwritten. Harris shows that these conditions are actually narrative strategies, rooted in cultural imperatives and, paradoxically, integral to the later development of women's texts that call for women's independence. Working with actual women's diaries and letters, Harris first shows what contemporary women sought from the books they read. She then applies these reading strategies to the most popular novels of the period, proving that even the most apparently retrograde demonstrate their heroines' abilities to create and control areas culturally defined as male.

Acknowledgments
Introduction
Narrative Designs and Textual Rebellions
Preludes: the early didactic novel. Narrative control in Charlotte Temple and A New-England Tale
Introduction to the exploratory text: subversions of the narrative design in St Elmo
Decoding the exploratory text: subversions of the narrative design in Queechy
Narrative Rebellions and Textual Designs
Inscribing and defining: the many voices of Fanny Fern's Ruth Hall
Extending and subverting: the iconography of houses in The Deserted Wife
Projecting the 'I'/conoclast: first-person narration in The Morgesons
The Later Didactic Novel
Narrative control and thematic radicalism in Work and The Silent Partner
Conclusions and Implications
Anomalies and anxieties: The Story of Avis, A Country Doctor, The Awakening, O Pioneers!
Notes
General index
Index to diaries, letters and reviews
Index to literary and historical references
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780521428705
ISBN-10: 052142870X
Series: Cambridge Studies in American Literature and Culture
Audience: Professional
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 256
Published: 24th August 1992
Publisher: CAMBRIDGE UNIV PR
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 22.81 x 15.24  x 1.96
Weight (kg): 0.4