Dream Revisionaries: Gender and Genre in Women's Utopian Fiction, 1870-1920

Dream Revisionaries: Gender and Genre in Women's Utopian Fiction, 1870-1920

by Darby Lewes


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Dream Revisionaries charts the evolution of women's utopian
writing in Britain and the United States between 1869 and 1920. This period
saw the emergence of a new kind of utopian text—one that redefined
women's roles in society and questioned the very foundations of
the social order on both sides of the Atlantic. During the period under
study, more than one hundred remarkably diverse utopian narratives written
by women were published on both sides of the Atlantic: feminist and antifeminist,
socialist and capitalist; placed in Kentucky, in London, at the North Pole,
or on Mars; set in the past, present, future, or outside of time altogether.
The value of these narratives is incalculable, for they provide insight
into how a homogeneous group of women (sharing an Anglo-Saxon heritage
and middle-class status) at a particular historical moment imagined what
men and women might be like if freed from the tyranny of custom and contemporary
values. Dream Revisionaries examines the literary, social, and historical
catalysts for this sudden efflorescence of women's utopian
writing. It delineates the historical contours of mainstream utopian fiction,
examines the place of women in canonical texts, and demonstrates how the
utopian responses of women in the 17th, 18th, and early 19th centuries
paved the way for the late 19th-century texts discussed in this study.
Lewes observes how women's utopian fiction facilitated the
creation of political and social manifestos that responded to the late
19th-century historical environment and how nationality sometimes complicated
and even overrode the authors' apparent commonalities. This volume
demonstrates how the genre was used to reconcile historically opposed feminist
ideologies and compares texts of the 1870s and 1970s, showing that the
supposedly "new" type of women's utopian writing in
many ways resembled that of a century earlier. Finally, it provides an
invaluable annotated bibliography covering three centuries of women's
utopian writing.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780817307950
Publisher: University of Alabama Press
Publication date: 09/28/1995
Pages: 216
Product dimensions: 7.40(w) x 9.70(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Darby Lewes is a professor of English and the author of Nudes from Nowhere and Dream Revisionaries: Gender and Genre in Women's Utopian Fiction, 1870-1920

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