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Cather Studies

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Cather Studies, Volume 10

Willa Cather and the Nineteenth Century

Cather Studies

Willa Cather and the Nineteenth Century explores, with textual specificity and historical alertness, the question of how the cultures of the nineteenth century—the cultures that shaped Willa Cather’s childhood, animated her education, supplied her artistic models, generated her inordinate ambitions, and gave embodiment to many of her deeply held values—are addressed in her fiction.

 

In two related sets of essays, seven contributors track within Cather’s life or writing the particular cultural formations, emotions, and conflicts of value she absorbed from the atmosphere of her distinct historical moment; their ten colleagues offer a compelling set of case studies that articulate the manifold ways that Cather learned from, built upon, or resisted models provided by particular nineteenth-century writers, works, or artistic genres. Taken together with its Cather Studies predecessor, Willa Cather and Modern Cultures, this volume reveals Cather as explorer and interpreter, sufferer and master of the transition from a Victorian to a Modernist America.

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Cather Studies, Volume 11

Willa Cather at the Modernist Crux

Cather Studies

Willa Cather at the Modernist Crux examines Willa Cather’s position in time, in aesthetics, and in the world. Born a Victorian in 1873, Cather made herself a modernist through the poems, stories, and novels she wrote and published into the twentieth century. Beginning with a prologue locating Cather’s position, this volume of Cather Studies offers three sets of related essays.

The first section takes up Cather’s beginnings with her late nineteenth-century cultural influences. The second section explores a range of discernible direct connections with contemporary artists (Howard Pyle, Frederic Remington, and Ernest Blumenschein) and others who figured in the making of her texts. The third section focuses on The Song of the Lark, a novel that confirms Cather’s shift westward and elaborates her emergent modernism. An epilogue by the editors of The Selected Letters of Willa Cather addresses how the recent availability of these letters has transformed Cather studies. Altogether, these essays detail Cather’s shaping of the world of the early twentieth century and later into a singular modernism born of both inherited and newer cultural traditions.
 

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Cather Studies, Volume 5

Willa Cather's Ecological Imagination

Cather Studies

The wide-ranging essays collected in this volume of Cather Studies examine Willa Cather’s unique artistic relationship to the environment. Under the theoretical rubric of ecocriticism, these essays focus on Cather’s close observations of the natural world and how the environment proves, for most of these contributors, to be more than simply a setting for her characters. While it is certain that Cather’s novels and short stories are deeply grounded in place, literary critics are only now considering how place functions within her narratives and addressing environmental issues through her writing.
 
These essays reintroduce us to a Cather who is profoundly identified with the places that shaped her and that she wrote about: Glen A. Love offers an interdisciplinary reading of The Professor’s House that is scientifically oriented; Joseph Urgo argues that My Ántonia models a preservationist aesthetic in which landscape and memory are inextricably entangled; Thomas J. Lyon posits that Cather had a living sense of the biotic community and used nature as the standard of excellence for human endeavors; and Jan Goggans considers the ways that My Ántonia shifts from nativism toward a “flexible notion of place-based community.”

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Cather Studies, Volume 6

History, Memory, and War

Cather Studies

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.

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Cather Studies, Volume 7

Willa Cather as Cultural Icon

Cather Studies

Volume 7 of the Cather Studies series explores Willa Cather’s iconic status and its problems within popular and literary culture. Not only are Cather’s own life and work subject to enshrinement, but as a writer, she herself often returned to the motifs of canonization and to the complex relationship between the onlooker and the idealized object. Through textual study of her published novels and her behind-the-scenes campaign and publicity writing in service of her novels, the reader comes to understand the extent to which, despite her legendary claims and commitment to privacy, Willa Cather helped to orchestrate her own iconic status.

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Cather Studies, Volume 9

Willa Cather and Modern Cultures

Cather Studies

Linking Willa Cather to “the modern” or “modernism” still seems an eccentric proposition to some people. Born in 1873, Cather felt tied to the past when she witnessed the emergence of twentieth-century modern culture, and the clean, classical sentences in her fiction contrast starkly with the radically experimental prose of prominent modernists. Nevertheless, her representations of place in the modern world reveal Cather as a writer able to imagine a startling range of different cultures.

Divided into two sections, the essays in Cather Studies, Volume 9 examine Willa Cather as an author with an innovative receptivity to modern cultures and a powerful affinity with the visual and musical arts. From the interplay between modern and antimodern in her representations of native culture to the music and visual arts that animated her imagination, the essays are unified by an understanding of Cather as a writer of transition whose fiction meditates on the cultural movement from Victorianism into the twentieth century. 

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