Scare Tactics: Supernatural Fiction by American Women

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Overview

Scare Tactics identifies an important but overlooked tradition of supernatural writing by American women. Jeffrey Weinstock analyzes this tradition as an essentially feminist attempt to imagine alternatives to a world of limited possibilities. In the process, he recovers the lives and works of authors who were important during their lifetimes and in the development of the American literary tradition, but who are not recognized today for their contributions. Between the end of the Civil War and roughly 1930, ...

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Scare Tactics: Supernatural Fiction by American Women

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Overview

Scare Tactics identifies an important but overlooked tradition of supernatural writing by American women. Jeffrey Weinstock analyzes this tradition as an essentially feminist attempt to imagine alternatives to a world of limited possibilities. In the process, he recovers the lives and works of authors who were important during their lifetimes and in the development of the American literary tradition, but who are not recognized today for their contributions. Between the end of the Civil War and roughly 1930, hundreds of uncanny tales were published by women in the periodical press and in books. These include stories by familiar figures such as Edith Wharton, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman, as well as by authors almost wholly unknown to twenty-first-century readers, such as Josephine Dodge Bacon, Alice Brown, Emma Frances Dawson, and Harriet Prescott Spofford. Focusing on this tradition of female writing offers a corrective to the prevailing belief within American literary scholarship that the uncanny tale, exemplified by the literary productions of Irving, Poe, and Hawthorne, was displaced after the Civil War by literary realism. Beyond the simple existence of an unacknowledged tradition of uncanny literature by women, Scare Tactics makes a strong case that this body of literature should be read as a specifically feminist literary tradition. Especially intriguing, Weinstock demonstrates, is that women authors repeatedly used Gothic conventions to express discontentment with circumscribed roles for women creating types of political intervention connected to the broader sphere of women's rights activism. Paying attention to these overlooked authors helps us better understand not only the literary marketplace of their time, but also more familiar American Gothicists from Edgar Allan Poe to Shirley Jackson to Stephen King.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
A very well written book. Its scholarship is excellent and it both fills a gap and leaves us asking more questions about what's hidden, what's coded, what's secretly influential in women's ghost stories of the era. Gina Wisker . . . Weinstock makes a cogent and compelling argument for the importance of these texts and demonstrates how women used the tropes of supernatural fiction to critique women's roles in Victorian and Edwardian American society. -Kathy Davis Patterson Weinstock's writing style is lively and accessible with the academic jargon kept to a minimum, so this book should be accessible to both scholars and those general readers willing to work a little at familiarizing themselves with the basic terminology of literary criticism. -Kestrell Rath
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780823229857
  • Publisher: Fordham University Press
  • Publication date: 9/15/2008
  • Edition description: 2
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 200
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

JEFFREY ANDREW WEINSTOCK is Professor of English at Central Michigan University. He is the author or editor of six previous books.

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Table of Contents

Introduction The Unacknowledged Tradition 1

1 The Ghost in the Parlor: Harriet Prescott Spofford, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Anna M. Hoyt, and Edith Wharton 26

2 Queer Haunting Spaces: Madeline Yale Wynne and Elia Wilkinson Peattie 56

3 Ghosts of Progress: Alice Cary, Mary Noailles Murfree, Mary Austin, and Edith Wharton 82

4 Familial Ghosts: Louise Stockton, Olivia Howard Dunbar, Edith Wharton, Josephine Daskam Bacon, Elia Wilkinson Peattie, Georgia Wood Pangborn, and Mary E. Wilkins Freeman 105

5 Ghosts of Desire: Rose Terry Cooke, Alice Brown, Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Ward, and Helen Hull 136

6 Ghostly Returns: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Gertrude Atherton, and Josephine Daskam Bacon 172

Coda: The Decline of the American Female Gothic 194

Works Cited 199

Index 219

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2013

    WARNING: DOES NOT INCLUDE ORIGINAL STORIES

    I wish someone had told me none of the original stories would be included for one's own personal perusal.

    This is more like a thesis and analysis, but without the source material, which pretty much sucks. It almost renders tuhe book pointless and useless.

    The introduction and free sample are misleading and a great pain.

    Don't buy this unless you're in the habit of blindly taking another's opinion on stories and if you can stand not getting the goods...

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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