Catalogue


Maverick autobiographies : women writers and the American West, 1900-1936 /
Cathryn Halverson.
imprint
Madison : University of Wisconsin Press, c2004.
description
xviii, 230 p.
ISBN
0299197204 (cloth : alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Madison : University of Wisconsin Press, c2004.
isbn
0299197204 (cloth : alk. paper)
catalogue key
5135570
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Cathryn Halverson is associate professor of English at Kobe City College of Foreign Studies, Japan.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2005-10-01:
Halverson (Kobe City College of Foreign Studies, Japan) reads the autobiographical works of Mary MacLane (The Story of Mary MacLane, 1902), Opal Whiteley (The Story of Opal, 1920), and Juanita Harrison (My Great, Wide, Beautiful World, 1936), looking at the authors as writers who redefined the metaphors and themes of western American literature. Each uses the conventions of the genre for her own purposes to gain popularity at a time when the reading public was interested in the stories of marginalized women dissatisfied with the lives and homes that restrained them. MacLane dismissed the myth of the American West, characterizing it not as a place of self-actualization but as one that hindered her growth. Whiteley turned motifs of civilization and wilderness on their heads: home was characterized by danger, the outdoors nurtured the individual. And Harrison defined life through travel, showing that the perception of African American women as static unraveled when both travel and writing created the possibility of many identities. These autobiographies speak to the complexity and ambiguity of both the text and the life engaged in popular culture, and Halverson's analysis broadens understanding of American autobiography and American culture. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Graduate and research collections. N. Allen West Chester University of Pennsylvania
Reviews
Review Quotes
"Halverson's scholarship is delightful to read and prompts her readers to search other texts for the quirkiness that challenges, and thus enriches, traditional categories of analysis."- Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature
This item was reviewed in:
Reference & Research Book News, August 2005
Choice, October 2005
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
In contrast to the traditional frontiers and pioneers focus of western studies, Maverick Autobiographies looks at women writers who came not to but from the West. Telling three larger-than-life stories, Cathryn Halverson offers an alternative history of American women's autobiography and a new view of western women's literature. Mary MacLane, Opal Whiteley, and Juanita Harrison, she argues, rewrote frontier myths to make a space for themselves as female iconoclasts from the West. Creating an ardent readership for western women's "naked" desires, they became best-selling celebrity authors. After their intense early fame, though, they virtually disappeared. Halverson examines why, and brings their texts back to light through a richly textured weaving of biography, literary analysis, and cultural historyin the process, urging us to reformulate our notions of what it means to be a "western writer." Mary MacLane, author of The Story of Mary MacLane (1902) and I, Mary MacLane (1917) became a national celebrity at age nineteen by describing the longing and discontent she felt in the "uncouth, warped, Montana town" of Butte. Opal Whiteley mixed nature writing, fantasy, and mysticism in her diary of growing up near an Oregon lumber camp, The Story of Opal: Journal of an Understanding Heart (1920). Juanita Harrison, a working-class traveler who claimed Los Angeles as her home, dramatized in My Great, Wide, Beautiful World (1936), the racial transformations she finessed during an epic around-the-world journey.
Main Description
In contrast to the traditional frontiers and pioneers focus of western studies,Maverick Autobiographieslooks at women writers who came not to but from the West. Telling three larger-than-life stories, Cathryn Halverson offers an alternative history of American women's autobiography and a new view of western women's literature. Mary MacLane, Opal Whiteley, and Juanita Harrison, she argues, rewrote frontier myths to make a space for themselves as female iconoclasts from the West. Creating an ardent readership for western women's "naked" desires, they became best-selling celebrity authors. After their intense early fame, though, they virtually disappeared. Halverson examines why, and brings their texts back to light through a richly textured weaving of biography, literary analysis, and cultural historyin the process, urging us to reformulate our notions of what it means to be a "western writer." Mary MacLane, author ofThe Story of Mary MacLane(1902) andI, Mary MacLane(1917) became a national celebrity at age nineteen by describing the longing and discontent she felt in the "uncouth, warped, Montana town" of Butte. Opal Whiteley mixed nature writing, fantasy, and mysticism in her diary of growing up near an Oregon lumber camp,The Story of Opal: Journal of an Understanding Heart(1920). Juanita Harrison, a working-class traveler who claimed Los Angeles as her home, dramatized inMy Great, Wide, Beautiful World(1936), the racial transformations she finessed during an epic around-the-world journey.
Main Description
In contrast to the traditional frontiers and pioneers focus of western studies, Maverick Autobiographieslooks at women writers who came not to but from the West. Telling three larger-than-life stories, Cathryn Halverson offers an alternative history of American women's autobiography and a new view of western women's literature. Mary MacLane, Opal Whiteley, and Juanita Harrison, she argues, rewrote frontier myths to make a space for themselves as female iconoclasts from the West. Creating an ardent readership for western women's "naked" desires, they became best-selling celebrity authors. After their intense early fame, though, they virtually disappeared. Halverson examines why, and brings their texts back to light through a richly textured weaving of biography, literary analysis, and cultural history--in the process, urging us to reformulate our notions of what it means to be a "western writer." Mary MacLane, author of The Story of Mary MacLane(1902) and I, Mary MacLane(1917) became a national celebrity at age nineteen by describing the longing and discontent she felt in the "uncouth, warped, Montana town" of Butte. Opal Whiteley mixed nature writing, fantasy, and mysticism in her diary of growing up near an Oregon lumber camp, The Story of Opal: Journal of an Understanding Heart(1920). Juanita Harrison, a working-class traveler who claimed Los Angeles as her home, dramatized in My Great, Wide, Beautiful World(1936), the racial transformations she finessed during an epic around-the-world journey.
Table of Contents
Prefacep. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xvii
Introduction: Western Genius, Eastward Boundp. 3
The Devil and Desire in Butte, Montanap. 19
After The Story of Mary MacLanep. 53
Little Girls and Their "Explores"p. 80
The Disappearing Regionp. 104
"Betwixt and Between": Southerner, Californian, European?p. 126
Conclusionsp. 156
Notesp. 165
Works Citedp. 205
Indexp. 223
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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