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The Color of Democracy in Women's Regional Writing, The Color of Democracy in Women's Regional Writing, 0817316612, 0-8173-1661-2, 978-0-8173-1661-7, 9780817316617, , Studies in American Literary Realism and Naturalism, The Color of Democracy in Women's Regional Writing, 0817382399, 0-8173-8239-9, 978-0-8173-8239-1, 9780817382391,

The Color of Democracy in Women's Regional Writing
by Jean Carol Griffith

Trade Cloth
2009. 280 pp.
Price:  $49.95 s
E Book
2009. 280 pp.
Price:  $49.95 d

An exciting addition to the ongoing debate about the place of regionalism in American literary history.

American regionalism has become a contested subject in literary studies alongside the ubiquitous triad of race, class, and gender. The Color of Democracy in Women's Regional Writing enters into the heart of an ongoing debate in the field about the significance of regional fiction at the end of the 19th century. Jean Griffith presents the innovative view that regional writing provided Edith Wharton, Ellen Glasgow, and Willa Cather with the means to explore social transformation in a form of fiction already closely associated with women readers and writers.

Griffith provides new readings of texts by these authors; she places them alongside the works of their contemporaries, including William Faulkner and Langston Hughes, to show regionalism's responses to the debate over who was capable of democratic participation and reading regionalism's changing mediations between natives and strangers as reflections of the changing face of democracy.

This insightful work enriches the current debate about whether regionalism critiques hierarchies or participates in nationalist and racist agendas and will be of great interest to those invested in regional writing or the works of these significant authors.

Jean Carol Griffith is Assistant Professor of English at the Wichita State University.

"Focusing on the lamentable destruction of cultural idols, illusions, and idealism by outsiders who do not understand their origin--as evidenced in the works of Ellen Glasgow, Willa Cather, and Edith Wharton--Griffith (Wichita State Univ.) argues that these authors viewed modern democracy at the turn of the 19th century as 'responsible for dismantling the boundaries that held past regional societies together and kept outsiders at bay.' They noted that the fuller democratization of the modern age entailed the degradation of cultural standards and the transformation of culture into a 'buyable commodity,' and this understanding heightened their preoccupation with region. The author explores the large issues raised by key thinkers at the time about racial diversity, eugenics, fitness, racial advancement, class boundaries, and cultural pluralism, and she argues that these concerns shaped the 'ambivalent attitudes [her subjects] held toward the writing of place.' And while Glasgow, Cather, and Wharton engaged in regional writing, they emphasized the redrawing of social boundaries and the reinterpretation of art and culture brought about by democracy. This volume significantly expands the excellent scholarship in Stephanie Foote's Regional Fictions (CH, Oct'01, 39-0775) and Donna Campbell's Resisting Regionalism (CH, Dec'97, 35-1963). Summing Up: Recommended. All readers."

“An original and significant contribution to the study of early 20th century American literature.”—Donna Cambell, author of Resisting Regionalism: Gender and Naturalism in American Fiction

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