What if the American literary canon were expanded to consistently represent women writers, who do not always fit easily into genres and periods established on the basis of men's writings? How would the study of American literature benefit from this long-needed revision? This timely collection of essays by fourteen women writers breaks new ground in American literary study. Not content to rediscover and awkwardly "fit" female writers into the "white male" scheme of anthologies and college courses, editors Margaret Dickie and Joyce W. Warren question the current boundaries of literary periods, advocating a revised literary canon. The essays consider a wide range of American women writers, including Mary Rowlandson, Margaret Fuller, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Emily Dickinson, Frances Harper, Edith Wharton, Gertrude Stein, Amy Lowell and Adrienne Rich, discussing how the present classification of these writers by periods affects our reading of their work.
Beyond the focus of feminist challenges to American literary periodization, this volume also studies issues of a need for literary reforms considering differences in race, ethnicity, class, and sexuality. The essays are valuable and informative as individual critical studies of specific writers and their works. Challenging Boundaries presents intelligent, original, well-written, and practical arguments in support of long-awaited changes in American literary scholarship and is a milestone of feminist literary study.