Women writers, such as Sarah Orne Jewett, Kate Chopin, and Willa Cather, were long dismissed by (male) critics as “regional” authors, the implication being that their writings had little universal appeal or impact. Regionalism, the term often used to describe these voices collectively, has been reclaimed in recent years: Judith Fetterley and Marjorie Pryse's 1992 text American Women Regionalists, 1850-1910 establishes regional writers as powerful forces in the literary canon, noting that works grounded in place do much to broaden the traditionally East Coast-focused acknowledgment of what constitutes American literature. This sort of feminist-revisionist history allows regional writers to be billed as place-specific rather than idiosyncratic. In the United States, where regions differ dramatically from one another, few reasons other than sexism exist to explain the long-lived dismissal of these works; the category seems to have been less focused on literary characteristics than on the gender of the author recording those characteristics.
Regional writings, also referred to as texts of local color because of the way they “paint” a particular picture, are often characterized by extreme reliance on geography for plot as well as by the use of dialect. Willa Cather, for example, writes about life on the Nebraska prairie, whereas Sarah Orne Jewett writes about life in Maine. While many male authors also wrote about specific locales, the term regionalism was rarely applied to their work, leaving feminist scholarship to address the political implications of the term.