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Influencing America's tastes : realism in the works of Wharton, Cather & Hurst /
Stephanie Lewis Thompson.
imprint
Gainesville : University Press of Florida, c2002.
description
xii, 234 p. ; 24 cm.
ISBN
0813024803 (alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Gainesville : University Press of Florida, c2002.
isbn
0813024803 (alk. paper)
catalogue key
4685793
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. [209]-221) and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2002-12-01:
In this useful book, Thompson (Peace College) argues for (1) a definition of modernism that focuses on the highbrow perspective of literature espoused by Eliot and Pound and (2) inclusion in the modernist canon of Wharton, Cather, and Hurst through a broader interpretation of their artistic aims as they relate to middlebrow literature and a wider audience. She looks at how concepts of highbrow modernism influenced the works of these three women writers and how their work continues to challenge the common standards of the term "modernism." Thompson explains the three authors' hostility to highbrow modernism, and what that position cost the critical reception of their works and their literary legacy. Approaching the subject from a feminist point of view, the author revises the idea that these writers were conservative. She depicts them making conscious, artistic decisions that were in direct conflict with the standards of perceived literary excellence of the time. Thompson looks at an array of sources from these authors: their letters and autobiographies, their statements about art, and especially their works about artists. Her search focuses on why these writers rejected the dominant modernist aesthetic and reveals the period's "tension over the nature of cultural influence." Upper-division undergraduates and above. B. M. McNeal Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania
Reviews
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, December 2002
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Summaries
Bowker Data Service Summary
This text offers a new way to understand such late 19th- and early 20th-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.
Main Description
"Stephanie Thompson is absolutely right that it makes no sense to talk about modernism without including the work of Wharton and Cather and other more middlebrow writers like Loos and Hurst. . . . Thompson's study gives us much to think about as we struggle to understand the sometimes conflicting, often overlapping literary experiments of turn-of-the-last-century writers."--Katherine Joslin, Western Michigan University "A definite contribution to the fields of women's literature and modernism . . . in restoring to our consciousness some of the continuities that were denied first by the more powerful group of modernist writers, then by critics following in their wake."--Susan K. Harris, Pennsylvania State University 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.
Main Description
"Stephanie Thompson is absolutely right that it makes no sense to talk about modernism without including the work of Wharton and Cather and other more middlebrow writers like Loos and Hurst. . . . Thompson's study gives us much to think about as we struggle to understand the sometimes conflicting, often overlapping literary experiments of turn-of-the-last-century writers."--Katherine Joslin, Western Michigan University "A definite contribution to the fields of women's literature and modernism . . . in restoring to our consciousness some of the continuities that were denied first by the more powerful group of modernist writers, then by critics following in their wake."--Susan K. Harris, Pennsylvania State University InInfluencing 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.
Table of Contents
Preface
Introduction: Nineteenth-Century Gender Ideology and the Modernist Culture Warp. 1
Women's Influence and the Transcendental Notion of Selfhoodp. 16
Louisa May Alcott and the Anxiety of Influencep. 42
Gentlemen Prefer Modernismp. 71
Edith Wharton's Argument with Modernismp. 89
Willa Cather and the Autobiographical Impulsep. 123
Fannie Hurst: Anatomy of a Popular Writerp. 155
Notesp. 195
Works Citedp. 209
Indexp. 223
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

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