With Her In Ourland

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Overview

Two works in one, this volume contains the full text of With Her in Ourland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, as well as an illuminating sociological analysis by Mary Jo Deegan with the assistance of Michael R. Hill. Ourland is the sequel to Gilman's acclaimed feminist utopian novel Herland; both were published in her journal, The Forerunner, in 1915 and 1916. Ourland resumes the adventures of Herland's protagonists, Ellador and Van, but turns from utopian fantasy to a challenging analysis of contemporary social fissures in his land, or the real world. The republication of Herland as a separate novel in 1979 revived critical interest in Gilman's work but truncated the larger aims implicit in the Herland/Ourland saga, leaving an erroneous understanding of Gilman's other/better half of the story, in which it is suggested that strong women can resocialize men to be nurturant and cooperative. Gilman's choice of a sexually integrated society in With Her in Ourland provides us with her answer to her ideal society, but her foray into a woman-only society as a corrective to a male dominated one is a controversial option. The challenging message of Ourland, however, does not impede the pleasure of reading it as a novel.

Though known more for her fiction today, Gilman in her time was a recognized and accomplished sociologist who admired Lester F. Ward and frequently visited Jane Addams of Chicago's Hull-House. The male protagonist in Herland/Ourland, Van, is a sociologist, used by Gilman as a foil on which to skewer the assumptions and practices of patriarchal sociology. The interpretation presented here, which adopts a sociological viewpoint, is invaluable reading for scholars and students of sociology, American women's studies, and utopian literature.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
He's a brash American adventurer; she's an independent, albeit sheltered, sociologist from Herland, a 2000-year-old, all-female society. Not surprisingly, when Vandyck (Van) and Ellador marry, most everything becomes a point of negotiation, if not contention: sexual relations, family obligations and attitudes about race, class and the welfare state. Originally published in 1916, this sequel to Gilman's utopian Herland (1915) was serialized in her monthly magazine, the Forerunner. Ostensibly Van's recollection of the pair's whirlwind, two-year trip through Europe, Asia and the U.S., this fictional vehicle is a thinly veiled platform for Gilman to rail against the evils of her era. Starting with the couple's exploration of WWI European battlefields, Gilman posits Ellador as a nave innocent peering at violence and inequity for the first time. Throughout, various forms of oppression, including poverty, racism and female subjugation, are caught in her incredulous gaze: "I think your prejudice against the black is silly, wicked, andhypocritical." Van, for his part, represents the blithely ignorant American status quo and is a perfect foil for Ellador's wide-eyed realizations. Gilman's politics, progressive by the standards of her day, aren't always correct by ours: her anti-Semitism and nativism are sure to rankle contemporary readers. Nonetheless, the book is a window into the second decade of the 20th century, and despite their persistent heavy-handedness, many of Gilman's observations are prescient and astute. (Aug.)
Library Journal
Despite its lack of plot, forced dialog, and flat characters, this is a significant book. A sequel to Gilman's feminist classic, Herland (1916), this continues yet radically changes that book's utopian vision. Ellador leaves Herland with her new husband, Vandyck Jennings, one of the three men who discovered the world populated entirely by women. After a tour of Europe and Asia, they return to "his" land, the United States. More sociological tract than novel, the book analyzes social, economic, and political problems, discussing overpopulation, gender roles, environmentalism, the care of children, and racismissues that are surprisingly relevant today. The final pages of the book provide an unexpected twist that completes the reader's understanding of Gilman's overall purpose. Recommended for academic libraries.Yvette Weller Olson, City Univ. Lib., Seattle
Booknews
A year after her 1915 "Herland", which describes a utopia peopled only by nurturing women, sociologist Gilman published the sequel, which turns from utopian fantasy to the analysis of social fissures that are still with us. She calls for neither feminist separatism nor quixotic escape, but for reason, social action, and cooperation between the sexes. A bibliography is included for the introduction. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

CHARLOTTE PERKINS GILMAN (1860-1935) was an eminent feminist sociologist and novelist, perhaps best known professionally for Women in Economics (1898, repr. 1966) and, as a fiction writer, for her semiautobiographical novella, The Yellow Wallpaper (1892, repr. 1973).

MARY JO DEEGAN is Professor of Sociology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Among her earlier publications are Jane Addams and the Men of the Chicago School, 1892-1918, Women in Sociology: A Bio-Bibliographical Sourcebook (Greenwood, 1991) and American Ritual Drama (Greenwood, 1989).

MICHAEL R. HILL is an interdisciplinary social scientist from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Iowa Western Community College.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Gilman's Sociological Journey from Herland to Ourland 1
1 The Return 61
2 War 71
3 A Journey to Inspection 83
4 Nearing Home 95
5 My Country 105
6 The Diagnosis 115
7 In Our Homes 125
8 More Diagnosis 137
9 [Democracy and Economics] 147
10 [Race and Religion] 159
11 [Feminism and the Woman's Movement] 171
12 [Conclusion] 183
Index 195
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