Regions of Identity: The Construction of America in Women's Fiction, 1885-1914

By Kate McCullough | Go to book overview

Notes

INTRODUCTION
1.
"America"'s usage as synonymous to "the United States" is of course evidence of the success of Manifest Destiny at least rhetorically. I will frequently enclose the word in quotation marks to underscore the constructed and contested nature of the concept.
2.
Crucial to both a postbellum project of reimagining internal U.S. racial relations and the transnational project of imperial expansion, race functioned then as now as one of the structuring axes of American identity. One effect of the discourse of race was that whiteness--a discursive category naturalized as an allegedly biologically based racial category which was (and still is) often confused or conflated with ethnic categories--became an implicit condition of national identity. As a kind of cultural metaphor, whiteness, then, not surprisingly came to carry a tremendous burden of cultural meaning. Ruth Frankenberg points out in White Women, Race Matters: The Social Construction of Whiteness that "'white' is as much as anything else an economic and political category maintained over time by a changing set of exclusionary practices, both legislative and customary" (11-12). See her introduction to White Women, Race Matters: The Social Construction of Whiteness. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993. 1-22.
3.
I have chosen to focus on these writers as particularly suggestive of these issues, but many other women writers of this period also engage in similar projects. Work remains to be done, for instance, on these issues in the work of writers such as Mary Austin, Alice S. Callahan, Alice Dunbar-Nelson, Helen Hunt Jackson, Mary Noailles Murfree, and Zitkala-Sä, among others.

CHAPTER 1: (RE) DRAWING BOUNDARIES
1.
The dates of the early editors of the magazine are as follows: James Russell Lowell , 1857-61; James T. Fields, 1861-71; William Dean Howells, 1871-81; Thomas Bailey Aldrich, 1881- 1890; and Horace Scudder, 1890-98. Jewett came to prominence under Fields but published with all the subsequent editors as well. For more on this context see Donovan New England Local Color Literature, Bell, and Brodhead.
2.
The ad hominum attack in this argument is curious and so prominent as to undermine the effectiveness of the claims; Wood asserts, for instance, that these writers often had a "neurotic fixation" on their parents (14). That her dismissal of this body of fiction is based both on region and gender is clear throughout the ar

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