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Cather Studies, Volume 6

History, Memory, and War

Cather Studies

Publication Year: 2006

Cather Studies 6 is part of a growing body of scholarship that seeks to undo Willa Cather’s longstanding reputation as a writer who remained aloof from the cultural issues of her day. This chronologically arranged collection demonstrates that Cather found the subject of war both unavoidable, because of her position in history, and artistically irresistible. The volume begins with an essay addressing the American Civil War as part of Cather’s southern cultural inheritance and concludes with an account of the aging writer’s participation in the Armed Services Editions Program of World War II.
Military matters surface not only in One of Ours and The Professor’s House, Cather’s two major contributions to the literature of World War I, but in most of her other works as well, including My Ántonia, in which the Plains Indian Wars and the Spanish-American conflict of 1898 are subtly but significantly evoked, and Sapphira and the Slave Girl, Cather’s largely ironic contribution to the genre of southern “Lost Cause” fiction. Containing essays by leading Cather scholars, such as Ann Romines and Janis Stout, and work by specialists in war literature, whose inclusion expands the number and range of critical perspectives, this volume breaks new ground.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press

Series: Cather Studies

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Editorial Policy

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pp. ix-x

Cather Studies, a forum for Cather scholarship and criticism, is published biennially by the University of Nebraska Press. Submissions are invited on all aspects of Cather studies: biography, various critical approaches to the art of Cather, her literary relationships and reputation, the artistic, historical, intellectual, ...

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pp. xi-xxv

As Mary Chinery points out in the final essay of this volume, some of the American troops who landed at Normandy on June 6, 1944, carried with them the compact, but unabridged, Armed Services edition of a particularly rich and powerful American novel—Willa Cather's Death Comes for the Archbishop. We do...

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Willa Cather's Civil War: A Very Long Engagement

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pp. 1-27

Willa Cather's story "The Namesake" was published in 1907, soon after her move to New York City as an editor of the influential McClure's Magazine. With a volume of poems and one of stories published and a career at the center of American literary and publishing culture opening up in front of her, Cather appears ...

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Jim Burden and the White Man's Burden: My Antonia and Empire

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pp. 28-57

Recent harvests in American history and letters have yielded an almost universal acknowledgement: the pioneer myth of the American West has been cultivated in a soil broken and furrowed by the colonizing impulse of empire. Each narrative of western settlement is rooted in a "legacy of conquest" (Limerick) ...

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The Not-So-Great War: Cather Family Letters and the Spanish-American War

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pp. 58-69

"The splendid little war" is the phrase Secretary of State John Hay used to refer to the altercation with Spain occurring during his term of office. Since then the name and the war have both undergone reappraisal. In 1996 historian Thomas G. Paterson writes of "the Spanish-American-Cuban-Filipino War" and another ...

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Between Two Wars in a Breaking World: Willa Cather and the Persistence of War Consciousness

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pp. 70-91

In 1947 Willa Cather's fellow modernist Katherine Anne Porter—a writer of whom Cather left no signs of awareness but who was keenly aware of Cather—wrote an aggressively humorous essay about Gertrude Stein in which she characterized the "literary young" who gathered around Stein in Paris in the 1920s as ...

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The "Enid Problem": Dangerous Modernity in One of Ours

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pp. 92-128

In the epigraph, D. H. Lawrence redraws the battle lines of World War I as a war between the sexes rather than a war between nations. He describes the war as an occasion upon which women exerted a "destructive malevolence" toward men, rather than as a conflict during which armies of men wounded and killed ...

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"Squeezed into an Unnatural Shape": Bayliss Wheeler and the Element of Control in One of Ours

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pp. 129-144

In his1987 biography Willa Cather: A Literary Life, James Woodress compares One of Ours to T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land. Thematically and structurally, according to Woodress, the works, conceived on opposite sides of the Atlantic, address the question of social disintegration; in his words, both works open "with a panorama ...

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"As Green as Their Money": The Doughboy Naïfs in One of Ours

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pp. 145-159

In The Music Man, a musical comedy set in the early 1900s, the conman and boys' band salesman Harold Hill, who is aboard a train bound for central Iowa, answers the question "How far are you going, friend?" with the quip "Wherever the people are as green as the money, friend." This answer, though comic, conveys ...

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Recreation in World War I and the Practice of Play in One of Ours

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pp. 160-183

Thumbing through photo pages in biographies and other books about Willa Cather, one encounters captivating images of an active author posing before natural backdrops. Photographs show Cather propelling a railroad handcar across the high plains of Wyoming and pausing momentarily in the summer woods of ...

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Culture and the "Cathedral": Tourism as Potlatch in One of Ours

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pp. 184-204

Early in the last section of Willa Cather's One of Ours, Claude Wheeler experiences what seems to be a transcendent moment of orientation and meaning. Sitting in what he believes is the cathedral of Rouen, he tries to commune with his surroundings by summoning up what he knows about Gothic architecture: ...

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On the Front and at Home: Wharton, Cather, the Jews, and the First World War

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pp. 205-227

When Professor St. Peter walks home one October afternoon, at the beginning of chapter 6 of Willa Cather's The Professor's House (1925), he admires from outside the house the vivid autumn foliage his wife has brought into the drawing room. He muses over the way it is selection and placement that create art: ...

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Looking at Agony: World War I in The Professor's House

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pp. 255-270

In her prefatory note to Not Under Forty (1936), Willa Cather famously wrote that "the world broke in two in 1922 or thereabouts." Why she picked this year has not been satisfactorily explained, for she announces the split as a public event rather than the personal one that critics often understand her to mean.1 Biographers

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Cathers Literary Choreography: The "Glittering Idea" of Scientific Warfare in The Professor's House

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pp. 244-270

This study examines how Willa Cather used the medium of dance to explore the "glittering idea" of scientific warfare. Inspired by the late-nineteenth-century classical Italian ballet Excelsior (juxtaposed against modern performances of Faust and Jeux), Cather was able to manipulate the "human story" of war with her ...

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Rebuilding the Outland Engine: A New Source for The Professor's House

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pp. 271-284

As revealed by the Southwick typescript of The Professor's House,1 Willa Cather struggled when trying to imagine the specific scientific "principle" that Tom Outland discovers and that Louis Marcellus later incorporates into a highly profitable commodity—the celebrated Outland engine. In the typescript (see fig. 1), Louis ...

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Wartime Fictions: Willa Cather, the Armed Services Editions, and the Unspeakable Second World War

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pp. 285-296

In a 1945 article, The Saturday Evening Post reported on wartime efforts to support the troops' morale through reading. In one anecdote, a soldier, lightly wounded in the Philippines and awaiting medical rescue, reached into his knapsack and pulled out a book issued to him by the Armed Services, which he read until ...


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pp. 297-300


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pp. 301-312

E-ISBN-13: 9780803205499
E-ISBN-10: 080320549X

Page Count: 384
Illustrations: Illus.
Publication Year: 2006

Series Title: Cather Studies