American Culture, Canons, and the Case of Elizabeth Stoddard

Overview

Elizabeth Stoddard was a gifted writer of fiction, poetry, and journalism; successfully published within her own lifetime; esteemed by such writers as William Dean Howells and Nathaniel Hawthorne; and situated at the epicenter of New York's literary world. Nonetheless, she has been almost excluded from literary memory and importance. This book seeks to understand why. By reconsidering Stoddard’s life and work and her current marginal status in the evolving canon of American literary studies, it raises important ...

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Overview

Elizabeth Stoddard was a gifted writer of fiction, poetry, and journalism; successfully published within her own lifetime; esteemed by such writers as William Dean Howells and Nathaniel Hawthorne; and situated at the epicenter of New York's literary world. Nonetheless, she has been almost excluded from literary memory and importance. This book seeks to understand why. By reconsidering Stoddard’s life and work and her current marginal status in the evolving canon of American literary studies, it raises important questions about women’s writing in the 19th century and canon formation in the 20th century.
 
Essays in this study locate Stoddard in the context of her contemporaries, such as Dickinson and Hawthorne, while others situate her work in the context of major 19th-century cultural forces and issues, among them the Civil War and Reconstruction, race and ethnicity, anorexia and female invalidism, nationalism and localism, and incest. One essay examines the development of Stoddard's work in the light of her biography, and others probe her stylistic and philosophic originality, the journalistic roots of her voice, and the elliptical themes of her short fiction. Stoddard’s lifelong project to articulate the nature and dynamics of woman's subjectivity, her challenging treatment of female appetite and will, and her depiction of the complex and often ambivalent relationships that white middle-class women had to their domestic spaces are also thoughtfully considered.
 
The editors argue that the neglect of Elizabeth Stoddard's contribution to American literature is a compelling example of the contingency of critical values and the instability of literary history. This study asks the question, “Will Stoddard endure?” Will she continue to drift into oblivion or will a new generation of readers and critics secure her tenuous legacy?

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"This is an exciting volume which presents many striking and original perspectives on Stoddard's work. The essays demonstrate how the arresting, puzzling, and seemingly eccentric texts of Elizabeth Stoddard yield significant insights on a wide expanse of issues, from incest, hunger, and domesticity, to race, Reconstruction, and American citizenship. . . . This book will, no doubt, be the critical work on Stoddard for years to come."
—Stacy Alaimo, author of Undomesticated Ground: Recasting Nature as Feminist Space

"Stoddard is well worth embedding in readings of 19th-century American culture. Highly recommended. American literature collections serving readers at all levels."
--Choice

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780817313135
  • Publisher: University of Alabama Press
  • Publication date: 6/28/2003
  • Pages: 312
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author


Robert McClure Smith is Associate Professor of English at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, and the award-winning author of The Seductions of Emily DickinsonEllen Weinauer is Associate Professor of English and the Director of the Women’s Studies Program at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg.Acknowledgments ix
Introduction: Crossing Can(n)on Street 1
Ellen Weinauer and Robert McClure Smith
Biographical Foreword: Elizabeth Drew Barstow
Stoddard (1823–1902) 21
Sandra A. Zagarell
Part 1. The Writer, the Canon, and the Protocols of Print
1. “Among a Crowd, I Find Myself Alone”: Elizabeth Stoddard and the
Canon of Nineteenth-Century American Women’s Poetry 37
Robert McClure Smith
2. Elizabeth Stoddard as Returned Californian: A Reading of the Daily
Alta California Columns 65
Margaret A. Amstutz
3. Haunting the House of Print: The Circulation of Disembodied Texts in
“Collected by a Valetudinarian” and “Miss Grief ” 83
Paul Crumbley
Part 2. Gender, Selfhood, and the Discourse of Domesticity
4. “I Am Cruel Hungry”: Dramas of Twisted Appetite and Rejected
Identi¤cation in Elizabeth Stoddard’s The Morgesons 107
Julia Stern
5. “Perversions of Volition”: Self-Starvation and Self-Possession in
Dickinson and Stoddard 128
Susanna Ryan
6. Home Coming and Home Leaving: Interrogations of Domesticity in
Elizabeth Stoddard’s Harper’s Fiction, 1859–1891 149
Jaime Osterman Alves
Contents
Part 3. Race, Reconstruction, and American Citizenship
7. The “American Sphinx” and the Riddle of National Identity in
Elizabeth Stoddard’s Two Men 183
Jennifer Putzi
8. (Un)Natural Attractions? Incest and Miscegenation in Two Men 202
Lisa Radinovsky
9. Reconstructing Temple House 232
Ellen Weinauer
Afterword: Will Stoddard Endure? 265
Lawrence Buell
Works Cited 2 71
Contributors 287
Index 289
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction: Crossing Can(n)on Street 1
Biographical Foreword: Elizabeth Drew Barstow Stoddard (1823-1902) 21
Pt. 1 The Writer, the Canon, and the Protocols of Print
1 "Among a Crowd, I Find Myself Alone": Elizabeth Stoddard and the Canon of Nineteenth-Century American Women's Poetry 37
2 Elizabeth Stoddard as Returned Californian: A Reading of the Daily Alta California Columns 65
3 Haunting the House of Print: The Circulation of Disembodied Texts in "Collected by a Valetudinarian" and "Miss Grief" 83
Pt. 2 Gender, Selfhood, and the Discourse of Domesticity
4 "I Am Cruel Hungry": Dramas of Twisted Appetite and Rejected Identification in Elizabeth Stoddard's The Morgesons 107
5 "Perversions of Volition": Self-Starvation and Self-Possession in Dickinson and Stoddard 128
6 Home Coming and Home Leaving: Interrogations of Domesticity in Elizabeth Stoddard's Harper's Fiction, 1859-1891 149
Pt. 3 Race, Reconstruction, and American Citizenship
7 The "American Sphinx" and the Riddle of National Identity in Elizabeth Stoddard's Two Men 183
8 (Un)Natural Attractions? Incest and Miscegenation in Two Men 202
9 Reconstructing Temple House 232
Afterword: Will Stoddard Endure? 265
Works Cited 271
Contributors 287
Index 289
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