Resisting regionalism: gender and naturalism in American fiction, 1885-1915

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Ohio University Press, 1997 - Literary Criticism - 233 pages
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When James Lane Allen defined the "Feminine Principle" and the "Masculine Principle" in American fiction for the Atlantic Monthly in 1897, he in effect described local color fiction and naturalism, two distinct branches of American realism often critically regarded as bearing little relationship to each other. Taking a fresh look at the relationship between the two movements, Resisting Regionalism asks two basic questions: What effect did the cultural dominance of women's local color fiction in the 1890s have on young male naturalistic writers? And to what extent was the effect influenced not only by genre, but, as Allen's article implies, by gender?Resisting Regionalism shows that, far from being distanced from local color fiction, naturalism emerged in part as a dissenting response to its popularity and to the "feminization" of American literature much decried in the literary journals of the time. Donna Campbell draws on a wide range of texts from both movements to demonstrate the ways in which authors,such as Crane, Norris, London, Frederic, and Wharton resisted the cultural myths and narrative strategies common to local colorists such as Sarah Orne Jewett, Rose Terry Cooke, Mary Wilkins Freeman, and Constance Fenimore Woolson. Reading these writers' works as part of an ongoing "argument" between naturalism and local color fiction, Campbell suggests fresh approaches to familiar texts as well as new interpretations of lesser-known stories.Written in clear, accessible prose, this award-winning study offers a synthesis of prevailing critical and historical opinion on a relatively neglected era in American literature and proposes further ways to rethink the role of naturalism inAmerican literature.

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Local Color Naturalism and Gender
Womens Local Color Fiction
Opening the Door to the Masculine Principle

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