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|A sample syllabus for teaching several of the authors featured on our site, created by the site's moderator Dr. Priscilla Leder.|
Bringing Up Jo: Little Women, Female Rhetorical Activity,
and the Nineteenth Century American Conduct Book Tradition
essay examining how Jo Alcott's behavior in Little
Women fits into the 19th century genre of the Etiquette conduct
A Guide to Research: Willa Cather a research/bibliographic guide to works by and about Willa Cather. An excellent place to start any research project on Cather, this lists major critical works, biographies, bibliographies, plus sources for texts online.
My Ántonia: A Survey of Critical Attitudes. This is a short, general, and somewhat informal
overview of the critical reaction to Cather's most domesticated
of novels, from its first reviews to modern discussions.
Influence and Children in Kate Chopin's Short Fiction.
"A theme to which Chopin returned throughout her career
is the dilemma of desire versus duty, self-realization versus
socially sanctioned self-sacrifice. Motherhood and children often
serve to emphasize a woman's self-deprivation, but there are
also cases where a woman can achieve self-actualization realization
through motherhood and caring for children. Some of Chopin's
most famous works illustrate the writer's preoccupation with
this paradoxical phenomenon." This thesis is applied to
such short stories as "A Pair of Silk Stockings," "Désirée's
Baby," "Athénaise," "Regret,"
"Polydore, and even looks at The Awakening.
Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper": A Poetics
of the Inside. A combination of a psychological
reading and an analysis of setting; this excellent paper explores
how the interior space of Gilman's short story interrogates the
story's explorations of control and intimacy.
Revisitation of Transcendentalism within Sarah Orne Jewett's
The Country of the Pointed Firs. Argues that Sarah Orne
Jewett writes out of the tradition of Emersonian transcendentalism
that so radically changed the face of nineteenth century philosophy
and politics, and that Jewett's infusion of womanhood and community
throughout The Country of the Pointed Firs offers a
subtle twist to this tradition.
Note: check out the Jewett essay at this link, by Jessica Amanda Salmonson-- not a part of my domestic goddess collection here, but well worth looking at.
and Out of the Kitchen: Women's Work and Networks in Nineteenth-Century
American Fiction. This long essay explores "the
cult of domesticity as best illustrated by the kitchen imagery
in Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin. It contrasts Stowe's imagery
and philosophy of womanhood with the representation of slave,
working class, and upper class women in other works of domestic
fiction of that period". Works that this essay explores
besides Stowe's are: The House of the Seven Gables by
Nathaniel Hawthorne (1851), Work: A Story of Experience
by Louisa May Alcott (1873), The House of Mirth by Edith
Wharton (1908), The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
(first published in 1881, revised 1908), "The Tartarus of
Maids" by Herman Melville (1855), "Life in the Iron
Mills" by Rebecca Harding Davis (1861), Ruth Hall
by Fanny Fern (Sara Willis Parton), (1855), Little Women
by Louisa May Alcott (1868), and A Country Doctor by Sarah
Orne Jewett. An excellent description of domesticity, with wide-ranging
examples. This is a great essay for someone who wants to know
what connects the authors on this site to each other, and to
the larger body of American Victorian Literature.
Susan Warner's Wide Wide World: The Despair Way to Heaven This paper defines the 19th century tradition of "Sentimentalism" and sentimental literature and examines both how Warner's text fits within that tradition and what the impact of Sentimentalism had upon American culture.
of Stasis, Moments of Movement: Seasonal Imagery in Wharton,
Le Guin, and Johnson.
An interesting paper which critiques Wharton
in comparison to two modern women writers. Its thesis is that
as women's lives have traditionally been more in tune with seasonal
change, "each novelist, while depicting the movement necessary
to build a story arc, sets this movement within a larger context
of circularity and sameness, represented for each by the recurring
and Domestic Space in Pauline Hopkins' Contending Forces
"Heavily influenced by Claudia Tate's work on
black women writers of the late nineteenth-century, this essay
uses conduct books and articles on colored people's advancement
from the Colored American Magazine to contextualize the
kind of discourses about domesticity within which Pauline Hopkins,
an African-American domestic writer, works. The paper also addresses
more generally what virtue, womanhood, "woman's sphere,"
and domesticity meant to women (white and black) and the reasons
for their importance within the black community
"Whispering Opposition": Jovita González' Caballero and (Anti)assimilation. A paper that examines a modern women writer from Texas whose novel about the Spanish hacienda system just as Texas became part of the US, because of its multiple domestic references and setting in the mid-nineteenth century, could be qualified as domestic.
"Written by Herself:" Harriet Jacobs And The Failure of Ideologies. This paper explores how, among others, the ideaology of the cult of true womanhood and domesticity often failed women who did not fit into its narrow definition of middle-class social standing. Harriet Jacobs, as a slave and then former slave, is aware of how "ideology" has failed her, and this paper examines this phenomenon in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.