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“Claudia Stokes presents a more textured account and provocatively mixed assessment of the sentimental tradition of American women’s letters than we have yet encountered.”—Tracy Fessenden, Arizona State University
“This is an excellent book—well researched, innovative, and beautifully written. Claudia Stokes shows a mastery of both literary sentimentalism and religious history, which she uses to bring out compelling new insights about what it meant for women to draw on sentimental codes as they forged new ways of participating in religious culture and public discussions.”—Nancy Bentley, University of Pennsylvania
Displays of devout religious faith are very much in evidence in nineteenth-century sentimental novels such as Uncle Tom’s Cabin andLittle Women, but the precise theological nature of this piety has been little examined. In the first dedicated study of the religious contents of sentimental literature, Claudia Stokes counters the long-standing characterization of sentimental piety as blandly nondescript and demonstrates that these works were in fact groundbreaking, assertive, and highly specific in their theological recommendations and endorsements. The Altar at Home explores the many religious contexts and contents of sentimental literature of the American nineteenth century, from the growth of Methodism in the Second Great Awakening and popular millennialism to the developing theologies of Mormonism and Christian Science.
Over the River and Through the Wood is the first and only collection of its kind, offering readers an unequaled view of the quality and diversity of nineteenth-century American children’s poetry. Most American poets wrote for children—from famous names such as Ralph Waldo Emerson to less familiar figures like Christina Moody, an African American author who published her first book at sixteen. In its excellence, relevance, and abundance, much of this work rivals or surpasses poetry written for adults, yet it has languished—inaccessible and unread—in old periodicals, gift books, and primers. This groundbreaking anthology remedies that loss, presenting material that is both critical to the tradition of American poetry and also a delight to read.
Complemented by period illustrations, this definitive collection includes work by poets from all geographical regions, as well as rarely seen poems by immigrant and ethnic writers and by children themselves. Karen L. Kilcup and Angela Sorby have combed the archives to present an extensive selection of rediscoveries along with traditional favorites. By turns playful, contemplative, humorous, and subversive, these poems appeal to modern sensibilities while giving scholars a revised picture of the nineteenth-century literary landscape.
Thinking Outside the Book
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.
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.
“Rohrbach’s readings and archival work demonstrate how valuable the decentering of authorship can be for understanding how racialized and marginalized subjects relate to the literary marketplace, to be sure, but also simply for understanding the networked quality of the marketplace itself in the nineteenth century.”—MATT COHEN, author of The Networked Wilderness: Communicating in Early New England
Serial Memoir: Archiving American Lives interrogates the presentation of subjectivity in serial memoir, arguing that seriality not only influences the way we read and understand contemporary autobiographical texts, it also changes our approach. In serial memoir, multiple versions of selfhood create an archive for the author because the selves and stories are materially collected, preserved, and (re)collected. Curiously neglected in critical examinations of the genre, serial memoir represents a significant trend in life writing as it illustrates a fundamental transition in how we document and archive our lives. In chapters examining the works of Mary McCarthy, Maya Angelou, Art Spiegelman, and Augusten Burroughs, Nicole Stamant shows some of the ways that serial memoirists record, engage, and perform lived experience in accord with larger social or cultural shifts in how people interact with one another; how they see themselves and their own participation in the global (and often virtual) sphere; and how they feel they can most effectively record their life narratives. Ultimately, seriality in memoir provides us with new ways to understand ourselves, and our lives, in relation to our pervasive serial culture.
How women writers made powerful emotional, ethical, and spiritual appeals for environmental awareness and transformation
In 1844, Lydia Sigourney asserted, “Man’s warfare on the trees is terrible.” Like Sigourney many American women of her day engaged with such issues as sustainability, resource wars, globalization, voluntary simplicity, Christian ecology, and environmental justice. Illuminating the foundations for contemporary women’s environmental writing, Fallen Forests shows how their nineteenth-century predecessors marshaled powerful affective, ethical, and spiritual resources to chastise, educate, and motivate readers to engage in positive social change.
Fallen Forests contributes to scholarship in American women’s writing, ecofeminism, ecocriticism, and feminist rhetoric, expanding the literary, historical, and theoretical grounds for some of today’s most pressing environmental debates. Karen L. Kilcup rejects prior critical emphases on sentimentalism to show how women writers have drawn on their literary emotional intelligence to raise readers’ consciousness about social and environmental issues. She also critiques ecocriticism’s idealizing tendency, which has elided women’s complicity in agendas that depart from today’s environmental orthodoxies.
Between the Novel and the News: The Emergence of American Women’s Writing
While American literary history has long acknowledged the profound influence of journalism on canonical male writers, Sari Edelstein argues that American women writers were also influenced by a dynamic relationship with the mainstream press. From the early republic through the turn of the twentieth century, she offers a comprehensive reassessment of writers such as Catharine Maria Sedgwick, Harriet Jacobs, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Drawing on slave narratives, sentimental novels, and realist fiction, Edelstein examines how advances in journalism—including the emergence of the penny press, the rise of the story-paper, and the birth of eyewitness reportage—shaped not only a female literary tradition but also gender conventions themselves.
Excluded from formal politics and lacking the vote, women writers were deft analysts of the prevalent tropes and aesthetic gestures of journalism, which they alternately relied upon and resisted in their efforts to influence public opinion and to intervene in political debates. Ultimately, Between the Novel and the News is a project of recovery that transforms our understanding of the genesis and the development of American women’s writing.
Edited and with an introduction by Theresa Strouth Gaul
Catharine Brown (1800?–1823) became Brainerd Mission School’s first Cherokee convert to Christianity, a missionary teacher, and the first Native American woman whose own writings saw extensive publication in her lifetime. After her death from tuberculosis at age twenty-three, the missionary organization that had educated and later employed Brown commissioned a posthumous biography, Memoir of Catharine Brown, which enjoyed widespread contemporary popularity and praise.
In the following decade, her writings, along with those of other educated Cherokees, became highly politicized and were used in debates about the removal of the Cherokees and other tribes to Indian Territory. Although she was once viewed by literary critics as a docile and dominated victim of missionaries who represented the tragic fate of Indians who abandoned their identities, Brown is now being reconsidered as a figure of enduring Cherokee revitalization, survival, adaptability, and leadership.
In Cherokee Sister Theresa Strouth Gaul collects all of Brown’s writings, consisting of letters and a diary, some appearing in print for the first time, as well as Brown’s biography and a drama and poems about her. This edition of Brown’s collected works and related materials firmly establishes her place in early nineteenth-century culture and her influence on American perceptions of Native Americans.
Becoming Modern: New Nineteenth-Century Studies
University of New Hampshire Press
Illuminates modern consumer culture and its challenges to American identity and values in two classic novels
Written a generation apart and rarely treated together by scholars, Little Women (1868) and The House of Mirth (1905) share a deep concern with materialism, moral development, and self-construction. The heroines in both grapple with conspicuous consumption, an aspect of modernity that challenges older beliefs about ethical behavior and core identity.
Placing both novels at the historical intersection of modern consumer culture and older religious discourse on materialism and identity, Sarah Way Sherman analyzes how Alcott and Wharton rework traditional Protestant discourse to interpret their heroines’ struggle with modern consumerism. Her conclusion reveals how Little Women’s optimism, still buoyed by otherworldly justice, providential interventions, and the notion of essential identity, ultimately gives way to the much darker vision of modern materialistic culture in The House of Mirth.
Rose Elizabeth Cleveland: First Lady and Literary Scholar
Rose Elizabeth Cleveland was the First Lady of the United States for nearly two years assisting her brother, President Grover Cleveland. Lesser known, she was also a literary scholar, novelist, and a poet who published works that empowered women. She lived the last years of her life in Bagni di Lucca (Italy) helping refugees.Throughout her life, she placed herself in the center of controversies concerning the position of women, their social, political and educational rights and opportunities, and the changing attitudes regarding their sexuality. She posed crucial questions about social norms and identity formation, questioned the validity of the heterosexual norm, and challenged patriarchal expectations. This book puts Rose Cleveland in her proper place in the historical record and shows her work concerning the ways in which society perceived, invented, and articulated gender and sexuality to be relevant still today.
For most people, the US suffrage campaign is encapsulated in images of orators such as the tightly coifed Susan B. Anthony, the wimpled Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and others who hectored for women’s rights throughout the nineteenth century. The campaign to secure the vote for US women, however, was also a modern and print-cultural phenomenon, waged with humor, style, and creativity.
In this fascinating cultural history, Mary Chapman demonstrates the importance of the aesthetically innovative print culture produced by US suffragists in the two decades leading up to the passage of the 19th Amendment, seven decades after women’s rights activists first met at Seneca Falls! A century before the advent of “social media”, suffragists mobilized the masses [fashioned a “suffragist spring’] through creative forms of propaganda including advocacy journals, guest-edited mainstream magazines, banners, voiceless speech placards, publicity stunts, poetry, and fiction. These propaganda forms made the public sphere much more inclusive even as they also perpetuated an image of the suffragist New Woman as native-born, white, and middle-class.