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348 WesternAmerican Literature any, contributions in these areas. MadeFrom ThisEarth sets the record straight. This wide-ranging, exhaustively researched, and clearly written book retrieves the forgotten and marginalized nature work of American women. Further, it argues compellingly that women’s many and varied contributions to nature study and conservation constitute a distinct and significant tradition against a backdrop of men’s dominance in these fields. Vera Norwood, an associate professor ofAmerican studies at the University of New Mexico, has made women and nature her special province since coedit­ ing (withJanice Monk) TheDesert Is No Lady: Southwestern Landscapes in Women’s Writing and Art (1987). In Made From This Earth she contends that women’s tradition of appreciating nature as a wider home and including plants and animals in a sense offamily has been progressively marginalized with the rise of an industrial economy and scientific methods of resource management. In a roughly chronological presentation beginning with the nineteenth century, the first four chapters describe the careers of women whose work was viewed as an enlargement of their responsibilities in the domestic sphere and who thus met gender-role expectations: botanizers and nature educators, writers in the sea­ sonal tradition, illustrators and photographers of flora and fauna, and garden­ ers and landscape designers. The last four chapters chronicle the efforts of women whose activities and values have challenged social expectations: crusad­ ers such as Rachel Carson and her network of supporters, novelists who expose racist and sexist images of women and nature, observers and conservers of wildlife in the field, and ecological feminists. Aficionados ofwestern American literature will find chapters two and six of special interest. Chapter two traces a home-based women’s tradition in nature writing from Susan Fenimore Cooper’s Rural Hours through Ann Zwinger’s Beyond theAspen Grove. Chapter six, with its reading offiction by minority aswell as Euro-American women, confronts “the troublesome issues of women’s sup­ posed animal nature and their ethical relations with animals”with provocative analyses of such works as Storyteller by Leslie Marmon Silko and The Mountain Lion by Jean Stafford. Read in its entirety, Made From This Earth provides a context for understanding the contributions ofAmerican women writers, west­ ern and otherwise. LORRAINE ANDERSON Davis, California Spider Woman’s Granddaughters, Traditional Tales and Contemporary Writing by Native American Women. Edited by Paula Gunn Allen. (Boston: Beacon Press, 1989. 242 pages, $19.95; New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1990. 280 pages, $12.50.) A careful reading of Paula Gunn Allen’s “Introduction” is essential to an understanding of Spider Woman’s Granddaughters. That introduction begins with Reviews 349 1) a discussion of oral and literary traditions that distinguish Native American storytelling from the ethos of individualism celebrated in Euroamerican writ­ ing, 2) the communal significance and purpose of Native American stories, 3) the battles against intellectual apartheid, racism and sexism which Native women writers assume, 4) an historical overview ofIndian/White relations from an indigenous perspective, and 5) a discussion ofthe selection and organization of the text. The collection is composed of parts of traditional oral tales, reflec­ tions told to collaborators, and short stories. Paula Gunn Allen has done a remarkable job of introducing her readers to a wide range of oral and written literature which is diverse in subject and voice, yet unified into a reflection on the devastating effects of “discovery”and westward expansion. The book is divided into three units: “The Warriors,”“The Casualties,”and “The Resistance.” ‘The Warriors” includes traditional stories of women’s brav­ ery and resourcefulness in battle, their significance in genesis legends, and women’songoing heroism even in the face of defeat. This section also includes stories of how girls are taught to become defenders. “The Casualties”section is a painful look at the rending of families and the loss of children as the most overwhelming aspect of cultural genocide. The stories in this unit explore the splintered acts of holding on, physically and spiritually, in the face of devasta­ tion. “The Resistance” looks at how Indian peoples can reject taking part in their own cultural and physical holocaust. These stories reveal how the oral tradition can incorporate the present in an ongoing Indian world...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 348-349
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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