Influencing America's Tastes: Realism in the Works of Wharton, Cather and Hurst
By: Stephanie Lewis Thompson (author)Hardback
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In Influencing America's Tastes, Stephanie Thompson offers a new way to understand such late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century women authors as Alcott, Wharton, Cather, Hurst, and Loos by examining their fiction and aesthetics in light of the emerging middlebrow culture of the era. She finds important parallels between the work of these women and the goals of the modernist movement that can offer insights into the complicated relationship between the middlebrow culture and the literary critics who articulated its taste. What is revealed is a combination of cultural and gender politics that marginalized these authors' writing as aesthetically second-rate. Unlike most feminist analyses of these authors, Thompson concentrates on their aesthetic concerns as expressed in autobiographies, letters, and critical essays, along with close readings of their fiction. She moves beyond the individual writers to consider the ways that scholars and critics have categorized them over time, offering a correction that enlarges our definition of "modernism."
Not only does this book contribute much to the reappraisal of women writers before, during, and after the period that literary scholars have constructed as modernist, but Thompson's understanding of social history and its ideological implications promises to influence current thinking about how literary history is constructed as well.
Stephanie Lewis Thompson is a lecturer in English at Peace College, Raleigh, N.C. She was a contributing editor to Literary Culture: Reading and Writing Literary Arguments and has published in the South Atlantic Review.
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- ID: 9780813024806
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