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Driving Women: Fiction and Automobile Culture in Twentieth-Century America
     

Driving Women: Fiction and Automobile Culture in Twentieth-Century America

by Deborah Clarke
 

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Over the years, cars have helped to define the experiences and self-perceptions of women in complex and sometimes unexpected ways. When women take the wheel, family structure and public space are reconfigured and re-gendered, creating a context for a literary tradition in which the car has served as a substitute for, an escape from, and an extension of the home, as

Overview

Over the years, cars have helped to define the experiences and self-perceptions of women in complex and sometimes unexpected ways. When women take the wheel, family structure and public space are reconfigured and re-gendered, creating a context for a literary tradition in which the car has served as a substitute for, an escape from, and an extension of the home, as well as a surrogate mother, a financial safeguard, and a means of self-expression.

Driving Women examines the intersection of American fiction—primarily but not exclusively by women—and automobile culture. Deborah Clarke argues that issues critical to twentieth-century American society—technology, mobility, domesticity, and agency—are repeatedly articulated through women's relationships with cars. Women writers took surprisingly intense interest in car culture and its import for modern life, as the car, replete with material and symbolic meaning, recast literal and literary female power in the automotive age.

Clarke draws on a wide range of literary works, both canonical and popular, to document women's fascination with cars from many perspectives: historical, psychological, economic, ethnic. Authors discussed include Wharton, Stein, Faulkner, O’Connor, Morrison, Erdrich, Mason, Kingsolver, Lopez, Kadohata, Smiley, Senna, Viramontes, Allison, and Silko. By investigating how cars can function as female space, reflect female identity, and reshape female agency, this engaging study opens up new angles from which to approach fiction by and about women and traces new directions in the intersection of literature, technology, and gender.

Editorial Reviews

Technology and Culture
By bringing her expertise in literature and women's studies to bear on automobility, Clarke adds to our understanding of both the lived and the imaginary potential of the automobile in women's lives.

— Kathleen Franz

Studies in American Fiction
Important work.

— Kris Lackey

Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature
Astute and thoroughly researched study.

— Laura L. Behling

Technology and Culture - Kathleen Franz

By bringing her expertise in literature and women's studies to bear on automobility, Clarke adds to our understanding of both the lived and the imaginary potential of the automobile in women's lives.

Studies in American Fiction - Kris Lackey

Important work.

Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature - Laura L. Behling

Astute and thoroughly researched study.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780801891793
Publisher:
Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date:
04/13/2007
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
226
File size:
3 MB
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are Saying About This

Linda Wagner-Martin

An innovative, precise, and useful study. Blending cultural criticism with new readings of texts, Clarke covers a century of American fiction and a century of the history and social impact of the automobile and its advertisements.

Meet the Author

Deborah Clarke is professor of English and women's studies at the Pennsylvania State University and author of Robbing the Mother: Women in Faulkner.

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