The Oxford Companion to Women's Writing in the United States

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From Anne Bradstreet's The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America in the seventeenth century, to Toni Morrison's Nobel Prize in 1993, women writers have woven a rich tapestry of voices across four centuries of American history. Their writings have embraced a marvelous diversity of visions, including those of Emily Dickinson, Gertrude Stein, Cynthia Ozick, Gwendolyn Brooks, Kate Chopin, Maya Angelou, Annie Dillard, Joan Didion, Edith Wharton, Adrienne Rich, Djuna Barnes, and Willa Cather. The Oxford Companion to ...
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Overview


From Anne Bradstreet's The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America in the seventeenth century, to Toni Morrison's Nobel Prize in 1993, women writers have woven a rich tapestry of voices across four centuries of American history. Their writings have embraced a marvelous diversity of visions, including those of Emily Dickinson, Gertrude Stein, Cynthia Ozick, Gwendolyn Brooks, Kate Chopin, Maya Angelou, Annie Dillard, Joan Didion, Edith Wharton, Adrienne Rich, Djuna Barnes, and Willa Cather. The Oxford Companion to Women's Writing in the United States provides a comprehensive, authoritative, and highly informative survey of these writers and their work as it illuminates the issues that fired their imaginations.
Here is a goldmine of information about women's writing, women's history, and women's concerns--over eight hundred entries, ranging from brief identifications to extensive essays. The volume boasts contributions by many well-known thinkers, including Susan Faludi writing on backlash, Deborah Tannen on communications between the sexes, Jane Gallop on Lacanian psychoanalysis, Nell Irvin Painter on Sojourner Truth, and Trudier Harris on Toni Morrison. There are nearly four hundred biographical entries, touching on not only important poets, novelists, and playwrights (including such modern figures as Wendy Wasserstein, Anne Tyler, Alice Walker, and Tama Janowitz), but also women writers who have made important contributions in other fields, such as Betty Friedan, Rachel Carson, Margaret Mead, Aimee Semple McPherson, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony. Perhaps most important, there is extensive coverage of the many personal, cultural, and historical issues that have been explored by and have influenced the lives and productivity of women writers, including AIDS, race and racism, violence and sexual harassment, the Civil War, the civil rights movement, and much more. There is also coverage of the publishing world (including bookstores and women's presses), the art and practice of writing, and contemporary literary criticism (including lesbian literary theory, black feminism, and deconstruction).
The women who have written beautifully, poignantly, tenderly, humorously, or powerfully about America and American lives are indeed a heterogeneous group. The Oxford Companion to Women's Writing in the United States captures this remarkable diversity, painting a fascinating portrait of women and women's writing in America.

A goldmine of information about women's writing, women's history, and women's concerns covers four centuries of literary history; examines the styles of various regions; explores ethnic literary traditions; and discusses genres such as children's literature, erotica, etiquette, lesbian drama, and more.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This new publication consists of over 800 entries that span four centuries of American women's writing. Full biographies and brief bibliographies detail the lives of women from all ethnic groups and regions of the country, including authors as diverse as Willa Cather and Rita Dove. Women who are not known chiefly as writers are also included, i.e., Rachel Carson, Margaret Mead, and Susan B. Anthony. Entries also include literary styles (French feminism), objects (journals and diaries), and institutions (libraries) central to women's writing. All essays are signed, and many contributors are famous in their own right, Susan Faludi and Deborah Tannen among them. A useful time line of women's concerns and advances and a general bibliography round out this work. Similar to American Women Writers: A Critical Reference Guide from Colonial Times to the Present (1979) and Modern American Women Writers (Scribner, 1991), this new guide is more current and has entries not solely limited to writers. Librarians will find themselves reaching for this book to answer a wide range of questions. Highly recommended for all libraries; essential for undergraduate collections.-Neal Wyatt, Mary Washington Coll. Lib., Fredericksburg, Va.
School Library Journal
YA-This scholarly reference provides a significant body of information on feminism and related literary topics. The definitions and explications are often complex and academic but the contemporary information will be useful to students interested in the most up-to-date analysis and author information. The cross-referencing within the text is helpful, as is the thorough index, which provides myriad subtopics to aid research. An introduction explains that one essay will lead to another and then another, working to create a broad picture of a given topic. Timelines show women's progress over time as it relates to literature and publication. A solid compendium of facts.-Richard Klein, Oakton High School, VA
Zom Zoms
In recent years, there has been a trend among publishers of literary reference sources for books that group authors in ways that reflect how they are increasingly studied. One of the ways to consider writers is by ethnic group. Another is to draw on the tremendous growth in the area of women's studies and examine women's literature as a distinct field. Now, from Oxford comes a new member of its distinguished Companion series. Editor Davidson is professor of English at Duke University; and Wagner-Martin is professor of English at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill Five hundred scholars contributed to this multidisciplinary work, which is intended "for both general readers and specialized academic critics." All entries are signed, and the contributors are listed in a directory. The editors explain that they chose "writing" rather than "literature" because they wanted the book to reflect women's contributions in a wide range of genres. Chronological coverage ranges over four centuries. Entries are from 15 lines to several pages in length. "See" references help guide the reader to appropriate entries, and, within the text, asterisks are used to indicate cross-references Coverage includes entries that examine periods of time, such as "Colonial Era Writing" and "Progressive Era Writing". Entries are here for ethnic literature, such as "Irish American Writing" and "Southeast Asian-American Writing", as well as for regions such as New England and the South. Essays cover such genres as "Humor", "Slave Narratives", "Poetry", "Protest Writing", and "Etiquette Books and Columns" and also on writing in various academic and professional fields. Other entries examine such issues as "Deconstruction and Feminism", "Immigration", "Pornography", and "Whiteness". Th entries "Aging", "Daughters", and "Romantic Love" explore these topics as literary themes. There are entries for historical events, such as the Federal Writer's Project, and for various aspects of reading and publishing. Separate entries appear for more than 400 women, from Anne Bradstreet and Phillis Wheatley to Gloria Steinem, Louise Erdrich, and Amy Tan. Many more are mentioned in the various essays; the index lists page references for writers as diverse as Sara Paretsky, Ann Landers, Anna Quindlen, Virginia Hamilton, Marabel Morgan, and LaVyrle Spencer. With a few exceptions, such as Tillie Olsen's "Silences", there are no entries for individual titles It is not entirely clear how decisions were made to have entries on some writers and not others. Southern writers Ellen Gilchrist and Lee Smith have their own entries, but Dorothy Allison, Jill McCorkle, and Josephine Humphries are covered in the essay "Southern Women's Writing". There is no mention anywhere of Mary Lee Settle. There are entries for Jane Smiley and Terry McMillan, but Mona Simpson is discussed under "Arab-American Writing", and Barbara Kingsolver is mentioned only as a poet, in the essay "Translators" Following the main body of the text are a "Timeline of U.S. Women's Writing," an extensive bibliography, and the index. The detailed index is crucial because of all of the information embedded in the text As the editors state in the preface, there are already "many excellent resources currently available" on women writers. Information about many of the writers covered here can also be found in "Contemporary Authors", "Modern American Women Writers" (Scribner, 1991), and "The Feminist Companion to Literature in English" (Yale, 1990), to name just a few. What is unique about this volume is that it aims to explore the entire range of women's writing in a multidisciplinary framework. The reader will learn almost as much about current trends and issues in the disciplines of literature and women's studies as about women's writing itself. Recommended for most libraries, as an authoritative source to support inquiries in both fields.
Booknews
A gold mine of information about women's writing, history, and concerns, contained in 771 entries written by both unknown and well- known cultural and literary critics. Includes biographical profiles of important poets, novelists, playwrights, and the many writers who have made contributions in other fields, as well as covering the many varied issues that have been explored by and have influenced the lives and work of women writers, including race and racism, violence and sexual harassment, health, AIDS, the Civil War, the publishing world, the art and practice of writing, and contemporary literary criticism. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195066081
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 1/5/1995
  • Pages: 1056
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 6.60 (h) x 2.50 (d)

Meet the Author

About the Editors:
Cathy N. Davidson is Professor of English at Duke University. She is also the president of the American Studies Association as well as editor of American Literature, the leading journal in the field. Linda Wagner-Martin is Hanes Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She is the author or editor of more than thirty-five books in the fields of modern American literature, women's literature, and biography.

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