Willa Cather and the American Southwest

Overview

The American Southwest was arguably as formative a landscape for Willa Cather's aesthetic vision as was her beloved Nebraska. Both landscapes elicited in her a sense of raw incompleteness. They seemed not so much finished places as things unassembled, more like countries "still waiting to be made into [a] landscape." Cather's fascination with the Southwest led to its presence as a significant setting in three of her most ambitious novels: The Song of the Lark, The Professor's House, and Death Comes for the ...
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Overview

The American Southwest was arguably as formative a landscape for Willa Cather's aesthetic vision as was her beloved Nebraska. Both landscapes elicited in her a sense of raw incompleteness. They seemed not so much finished places as things unassembled, more like countries "still waiting to be made into [a] landscape." Cather's fascination with the Southwest led to its presence as a significant setting in three of her most ambitious novels: The Song of the Lark, The Professor's House, and Death Comes for the Archbishop. This volume focuses a sharp eye on how the landscape of the American Southwest served Cather creatively and the ways it shaped her research and productivity. No single scholarly methodology prevails in the essays gathered here, giving the volume rare depth and complexity.

John N. Swift is a professor of English and comparative literary studies at Occidental College. He is the past president of the Willa Cather Pioneer Memorial and Educational Foundation. Joseph R. Urgo is a professor in and the chair of the Department of English at the University of Mississippi. He is the author of In the Age of Distraction and Willa Cather and the Myth of American Migration.

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Editorial Reviews

Choice

“The essays in this engaging volume take on the wide geographical and cultural landscape of the two 1920s novels [The Professor’s House and Death Comes for the Archbishop] . . . . German anthropology, New Mexican folk art, Anasazi cannibalism, the Smithsonian Museum, and ‘sentimental nationality’ are just a few of the areas explored by the intrepid contributors.”—Choice
The Journal of Arizona History

"[The collection] is serious, scholarly, and commedably broad within the narrow confines of single-author studies."—Jennifer Jenkins, The Journal of Arizona History

— Jennifer Jenkins

The Journal of Arizona History - Jennifer Jenkins

"[The collection] is serious, scholarly, and commedably broad within the narrow confines of single-author studies."—Jennifer Jenkins, The Journal of Arizona History
Choice

“The essays in this engaging volume take on the wide geographical and cultural landscape of the two 1920s novels [The Professor’s House and Death Comes for the Archbishop] . . . . German anthropology, New Mexican folk art, Anasazi cannibalism, the Smithsonian Museum, and ‘sentimental nationality’ are just a few of the areas explored by the intrepid contributors.”—Choice

New Mexico Historical Review - Steven Trout
“An essay collection devoted to the rich subject of Cather and the Southwest is long overdue, and editors John N. Swift and Joseph R. Urgo have compiled an admirably readable and closely edited volumne. There is not a weak or superfluous essay in the collection.”—Steven Trout, New Mexico Historical Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803293168
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
  • Publication date: 6/1/2004
  • Pages: 180
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author


John N. Swift is a professor of English and comparative literary studies at Occidental College. He is the past president of the Willa Cather Pioneer Memorial and Educational Foundation. Joseph R. Urgo is a professor in and the chair of the Department of English at the University of Mississippi. He is the author of In the Age of Distraction and Willa Cather and the Myth of American Migration.
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Introduction: Literate Tourism and Cather's Southwest 1
Unwrapping the Mummy: Cather's Mother Eve and the Business of Desire 13
Anasazi Cannibalism: Eating Eden 22
From Mesa Verde to Germany: The Appropriation of Indian Artifacts as Part of Willa Cather's Cultural Critique in The Professor's House 31
Fear of a Queer Mesa?: Faith, Friendship, and National Sexuality in "Tom Outland's Story" 43
Holy Cities, Poor Savages, and the Science Culture: Positioning The Professor's House 55
The Experience of Meaning in The Professor's House 71
Cather and the Father of History 80
Twain and Cather, Once Again 89
Willa Cather and the Santos Tradition in Death Comes for the Archbishop 97
Writing Culture: Willa Cather's Southwest 108
Landscapes of the Magical: Cather's and Anaya's Explorations of the Southwest 124
Multiculturalism as Nostalgia in Cather, Faulkner, and U.S. Culture 136
Afterword: From The Professor's House to the Roundhouse - and Beyond 150
Works Cited 155
Contributors 163
Index 167
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