This essay argues that electricity was a significant theme in western literature during the turn of the twentieth century. It specifically focuses on two non-canonical texts by women writers, Mary Hallock Foote’s 1896 novella, “The Harshaw Bride,” and Honoré Willsie Morrow’s 1923 novel, The Exile of the Lariat—two works that engage with this theme in order to draw attention to the roles that women played in modernizing the West. This paper discusses how Foote and Morrow contradicted the electrical industry’s depiction of electrical development as a solely masculine endeavor. It also demonstrates that both writers perpetuated stereotypes about native women in their attempts to emphasize the contributions of white women. By recovering these novelizations of electricity in the West, this essay ultimately challenges the prevailing idea that western writers were anti-modern, chronicling instead the complex feelings that men and women had about social and technological changes to their way of life.


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pp. 341-361
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