Reforming Fictions: Native, African, and Jewish American Women's Literature and Journalism in the Progressive Era

By Carol J. Batker | Go to book overview

Afterword

Along line of Indian rights, social welfare, war relief, suffrage, settlement, and immigrant aid workers made their appearance in women's journalism and domestic fiction during the Progressive Era. Journalists commented on their own positions as reformers even as they addressed specific political issues. Characters in domestic fiction experienced reform through boarding schools, women's organizations, and homes for working girls and, like their authors, took on public roles as critics and proponents of reform. However, despite its substantial investment in public discourse, this dialogue between journalism and fiction has remained a lost chapter of women's literary and intellectual history.

Moreover, the Progressive Era lives up to its name to an extent that has not been fully realized. Native, African, and Jewish women's writing redefined reform in this period. Suffrage, for example, is only one context in which women wrote about citizenship and the vote. Even when women in these communities used the rhetoric of suffrage itself, they often used it to different ends. Zitkala-Sa saw citizenship as integral to negotiations over land tenure and resource management. In a similar vein, Mourning Dove jokingly compared Cogewea to a suffragette not to comment on women's suffrage but to highlight citizenship in the context of American Indian rights. Fauset wrote about segregation and the denial of citizenship to African Americans, gen-

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