Cover

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Frontmatter

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CONTENTS

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p. v

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PREFACE

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pp. vii-xii

This book is about the cultural work of five modern southern women writers: Julia Peterkin (1880–1961), Gwen Bristow (1903–1980), Caroline Gordon (1895–1981), Willa Cather (1873–1947), and Lillian Smith (1897– 1966). It centers on the specific resonating impact of their engagement with the myth of White Southern Womanhood and the Plantation Mythology...

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

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pp. xiii-xiv

The dedicated and experienced sta≠ at the University of Iowa Press facilitated the timely production of this book. Thanks, especially, to Joseph Parsons, Charlotte Wright, and Holly Carver for your acuity in knowing what was needed to make this the best book possible....

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1. THE LADIES AND THE MYTHS: White Southern Women’s Writing

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pp. 1-21

Richard Greenberg opens his entirely male-cast Tony Award–winning play Take Me Out with Kippy, the narrator, progressing through the sequence of proximate causes in the above quote, which, Kippy concludes, leads to core events at issue in the play. I am reminded of this witty opening...

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2. A WHITE BLACK WRITER: Julia Mood Peterkin

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pp. 22-54

There is confusion over why On a Plantation,1 one of a handful of Julia Peterkin’s fiction focused through a white character, was never published. Susan Williams claims that Peterkin ambitiously sought to publish the would-be novel, submitting revisions of it to H. L. Mencken even after he advised her to abandon the project, because, as Williams maintains,...

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3. A CERTAIN MENTAL ABERRATION: Gwen Bristow

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pp. 55-107

The Handsome Road, the second novel of Gwen Bristow’s Plantation Trilogy, from which the lyrics above are taken, was released after Gone with the Wind (1936) and addressed the same period in southern history as Margaret Mitchell’s widely celebrated book. The reception forecast for the novel, thus, initially appeared rather...

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4. SHE’LL TAKE HER STAND: Caroline Gordon

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pp. 108-136

“A Visit to the Grove” (1972) is one of several autobiographical essays Gordon wrote toward the latter part of her literary career, in which she elaborates on the interrelations among her childhood, maturation, and craftsmanship. At the outset of this essay, Gordon draws from Samuel Coleridge’s definition of fancy as a “mode of memory emancipated from...

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5. PAVING THE WAY: Willa Cather and Lillian Smith

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pp. 137-164

Willa Cather and Lillian Smith are two modern southern women writers who have never been read in juxtaposition with one another, probably because of what Terry Eagleton has termed the “disabling idea of aesthetic autonomy,” that is, the notion that true (literary) writers write in isolation of their political influences (9). Until quite recently, this theory...

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6. NEW BEGINNINGS: Old Sites of Authority

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pp. 165-171

During my years of graduate work at the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign, I discovered the seed of my contention with critical assessments of white southern women’s writing that has resulted in this book. At about that time, I also discovered A Different World (1987–1993),...

NOTES

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pp. 173-185

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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pp. 187-201

INDEX

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pp. 203-208