Current Issue

Volume 36, No. 1, 2019

Editor’s Note

Susan Tomlinson

Tributes to Nina Baym (1936–2018)

Frances Smith Foster, Eric Gardner, Susan K. Harris, Melissa J. Homestead, Carla L. Peterson, Jean Pfaelzer, Sarah Ruffing Robbins, Nicole Tonkovich, Mary I. Unger, Karen A. Weyler, and Sandra A. Zagarell


“Let the Light Enter!”: Illuminating the Newspaper Poetry of Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

Hannah Wakefield

This essay shows how two periodical contexts shape a single poem by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper in strikingly different ways. Encountered as a standalone poem, or even within the context of Harper’s own 1871 collection of poetry, the poem “Let the Light Enter!” appears to be a conventionally pious and moralistic text. However, analyzing two previous versions of the poem—one published in the Weekly Anglo-African in 1860 and one appearing in the Christian Recorder in 1866exposes ethical and political possibilities not readily available without reading the poem in its periodical contexts. In particular, this essay explores how the newspapers’ respective goals, editors, and institutional affiliations play upon the poem’s figure of light to encourage different kinds of belief and action on the part of black readers. Beginning with Harper’s poem, the Weekly Anglo-African deploys the metaphor of light in news, editorials, and creative works to encourage readers’ sense of black selfhood and their rejection of white systems of knowledge. On the other hand, the Christian Recorder interprets the figure of light in Harper’s poem as a goad to stronger affiliation with and service to an institution: the African Methodist Episcopal Church. When “Let the Light Enter!” yields its voice to different periodicals, its literary devices take on a new life as they become elements of a larger project. Ultimately, this comparative approach shows us that attempting to grasp the full range of any poem’s meaning requires attending to the rich print contexts that illumine it.

Grief’s Theatrical Tutelage: Drama, Recitation, and a Collaborative Sociability in Constance Fenimore Woolson’s “Miss Grief”

Stephanie Byttebier

Androgynes, Amazons, Agenes: Transgender Studies and the College Girl, 1878

Molly K. Robey

In this essay, Molly Robey analyzes the first college novel written by an American woman—Olive San Louie Anderson’s 1878 novel An American Girl and Her Four Years in a Boys’ College—through the framework of transgender studies. Robey argues that a transgender analysis of this novel illuminates Anderson’s concerns with gender identity and intelligibility as she traces the experiences of a College Girl frequently described as boyish and queer. This first women’s college novel, Robey suggests, like much transgender narrative, tells the story of transformation and the transgression of a gender binary. Robey illustrates that this novel too emphasizes the issue of intelligibility, of the ways an individual is or is not recognized within the grid of legibility constituted by normative gender categories. The novel offers a sensitive depiction of the social isolation and depression that can accompany a lack of recognition and comprehension by others as well as a prescient representation of the genderbashing and reality enforcement that transgender studies scholars have identified as central to trans experience. While Robey cautions that the protagonist of this novel should not be retroactively labeled transgender, she does suggest the novel presents a fascinating case study through which to examine the stakes of applying transgender studies to pre-twentieth-century women’s writing.

Forum: Little Women at 150


Jennifer Putzi

Playing Pilgrims

María Carla Sánchez

“[Even] Beth’s Stage-Struck!”: Theatrical Little Women

Anne K. Phillips

Jo’s Invisible Sisters

Barbara McCaskill

Little Women, Made Small

Laura M. Stevens

Her Bosom Enemy

Cynthia Davis

Frado, Linda, Ellen, and Iola

Cherene Sherrard-Johnson

My Meg’s Queer Turn

Jean M. Lutes

Doing Nothing

Alexandra Socarides

“Experiments”; or, “Housekeeping ain’t no joke”

Lorrayne Carroll

The Death of Pip

Donna M. Campbell

“Hope, and Keep Busy”: Little Women and Critical Pedagogy in the Era of Trump

Randi Lynn Tanglen

Amy’s Dark Night

Gregory Eiselein

Little Women’s Literary Lessons

Sari Edelstein

In Defense of Young Balloons

Katherine Adams

Serious Literature

Catherine Keyser

Surprise, Surprise

Deborah Gussman

The Magic Combination of Family and Books: Jo Lighting the Way

Anne Boyd Rioux

Legacy Reprint

Absolving La Llorona: Yda H. Addis’s “The Wailing Woman”

Rene H. Treviño

“The Wailing Woman”

Yda H. Addis

Legacy Reprint

Rewriting the Scribbling Women

Nina Baym

Selected Bibliography of Works by Nina Baym

Book Reviews

Imitation Nation: Red, White, and Blackface in Early and Antebellum US Literature, by Jason Richards

Laura Barrio-Vilar

Antebellum American Women’s Poetry: A Rhetoric of Sentiment, by Wendy Dasler Johnson

Karen L. Kilcup

The Moral Economies of American Authorship: Reputation, Scandal, and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Marketplace, by Susan M. Ryan

Ellen J. Goldner

Unconventional Politics: Nineteenth-Century Women Writers and U.S. Indian Policy, by Janet Dean; and Recovering Native American Writings in the Boarding School Press, edited by Jacqueline Emery

Amy Gore

The Biopolitics of Feeling: Race, Sex, and Science in the Nineteenth Century, by Kyla Schuller

Sheila Liming

Iola Leroy; Or, Shadows Uplifted, by Frances E. W. Harper, edited by Koritha Mitchell

Mollie Barnes

Charlotte Perkins Gilman and a Woman’s Place in America, edited Jill Bergman

Charlotte Rich

Willa Cather at the Modernist Crux, edited by Ann Moseley, John J. Murphy, and Robert Thacker; and Something Complete and Great: The Centennial Study of My Ántonia, edited by Holly Blackford

Matthew J. Lavin

Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder, by Caroline Fraser; Libertarians on the Prairie: Laura Ingalls Wilder, Rose Wilder Lane, and the Making of the Little House Books, by Christine Woodside; and The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder: The Frontier Landscapes That Inspired the Little House Books, by Marta McDowell

Elif S. Armbruster

Resistance Reimagined: Black Women’s Critical Thought as Survival, by Regis M. Fox

April Langley