“Illegitimate Children and Bastard Sequels: The Case of Susanna Rowson’s Lucy Temple.”
Desirée Henderson, University of Texas, Arlington
Reading Susanna Rowson’s Charlotte’s Daughter; or, the Three Orphans, a book that later became known as Lucy Temple, Desirée Henderson argues that the book “subverts the didactic message of Charlotte Templeregarding a daughter’s allegiance to her parents and instead valorizes independence and even isolation as the ideal state for young women.” Henderson also demonstrates how Lucy Temple, as a sequel, does not merely extend the story of its precursor, but “enact[s] the breakdown of lineage dramatized in the novel.” This essay also gives valuable attention to other, pirated editions of both texts, and shows “how notions of legitimacy relate not only to parentage but to publication.”
“History, Memory, and the Echoes of Equivalence in Catharine Maria Sedgwick’s Hope Leslie.”
Amanda Emerson, University of South Dakota
Amanda Emerson’s essay makes a valuable distinction between various versions of equality: equality as equity, which “unites the nation in the face of impending dissolution at the end of the eighteenth century by ascribing differences among Americans to an impartial power” and equality as equivalence, or “versions of the American myth that recall a lost state of nature or a utopic, revolutionary condition–both distinguished by a universal sense of material well-being and a sameness in living.” Emerson demonstrates how in Hope Leslie, Catharine Maria Sedgwick resists a “national myth of American equality that subordinates women under the sign of equity” and “reasserts through historical portrayals of national commitment the equivalence of women’s and men’s intelligence and moral capacity.”
“‘Face to Face’: Localizing Lucy Delaney’s From the Darkness Cometh the Light.”
Eric Gardner, Saginaw Valley State University
In 1891 Lucy Delaney, a Black woman writer and activist, published her autobiographical narrative, From the Darkness Cometh the Light; or, Struggles for Freedom. Delaney, “a contemporary of Frederick Douglass, William Wells Brown, [and] Harriet Jacobs,” wrote a text that seems more at home among those penned by the next generation of Black writers, including Frances E. W. Harper. Eric Gardner explores the “personal and local motivations and contexts behind Delaney’s narrative” as a “public document designed to participate in the world of St. Louis in the 1890s, even though most of it focuses on events of the 1840s.” Drawing on a wealth of archival research, Gardner traces the book’s initial reception and critical discussion about Delaney, furthering these scholarly initiatives by adding biographical and local contextual materials that enrich our understanding of this overlooked woman writer.
“Charlotte Perkins Gilman and the Yellow Newspaper.”
Sari Edelstein, Brandeis University
Charlotte Perkins Gillman, Edelstein demonstrates, “defines her work against ‘yellow journalism.'” She founded The Forerunner as a way of “cultivat[ing] intellectual journalism at a moment when sensational newspapers and tabloids dominated the print marketplace.” The trajectories of her resistance engaged both the practices of newspapers engaged in the practice and the ethics of those who “participated in and promoted the practice of sensational journalism.” Gilman’s fiction, as well–and especially “The Yellow Wall-Paper”–“draws much of its symbolic strength from the imagery and iconography of yellow journalism.” This essay thus situates Gilman within what Edelstein calls “the media landscape of the late nineteenth century” and demonstrates how the emerging practices of sensationalism produced were encountered by women writers of the period.
From the Archives
“‘Strong, and Wild, and Green’: Ethel Augur’s Western Adventure, 1911-1914.”
Pattie Cowell, Colorado State University
Tourist, traveler, teacher in the west of the early twentieth century, Ethel Augur wrote hundreds of letters to her parents and family about her adventures. These letters offer descriptions of the country through which Augur traveled and chronicle “her determination to make her own way” as one of only a few women who worked for the Shaw and Powell Camping Company in Yellowstone National Park. Pattie Cowell introduces this “Jill-of-all-trades” to Legacy readers as a way of “exlpor[ing] the literary discourse of adventure Augur used to explain the transformative social and physical freedom she found as a western traveler.” Cowell’s essay introduces Augur and weaves an illuminating literary and historical context through which to read several excerpts from Augur’s letters from the West.
Excerpts from the letters of Ethel Augur
edited by Pattie Cowell, Colorado State University
“Mary Rankin, 1821-1889.”
Robin L. Cadwallader, Saint Francis University of Pennsylvania
Mary Rankin wrote only one book during her lifetime, Daughter of Affliction: A Memoir of the Protracted Sufferings and Religious Experience of Miss Mary Rankin. Rankin, who lived in a small community in rural west-central Pennsylvania, illuminates our understanding of women writers of her period who were not affiliated with the “dominant literary culture of urban New England.” Robin Cadwallader presents a fascinating investigation into the conditions under which that book was written, linking it to “the later interests of local color fiction,” conversion narratives, and the discourses of women’s health and illness. Two excerpts from Rankin’s Memoir accompany the Profile.
Catharine Macaulay and Mercy Otis Warren: The Revolutionary Atlantic and the Politics of Gender by Kate Davies
Jason Shaffer, United States Naval Academy
While the club and the debate over it occupy only one chapter of Davies’s book, the interactions between femininity and classical republicanism, between the public and private spheres, between sociability and virtue, and between authorial persona and personal identity that color this historical episode also guide this fine and much-needed assessment of Macaulay and Warren as women writers and republican thinkers. Macaulay and Warren’s social and ideological positions also yielded a profusion of other texts: both women were immersed in the system of epistolary exchange that bound together the Atlantic radical community during the eighteenth century.
To Marry an Indian: The Marriage of Harriett Gold and Elias Boudinot in Letters, 1823-1839, edited by Theresa Strouth Gaul
Cari M. Carpenter, West Virginia University
The repetition of the word “nation” in reference to the Cherokees serves as an important reminder of the unique political status of indigenous peoples; despite the removal policies of the nineteenth century and other challenges to native sovereignty, the possession that Boudinot speaks of persists.
Daughter of Boston: The Extraordinary Diary of a Nineteenth-Century Woman, Caroline Healey Dall, edited by Helen R. Deese
Sharon M. Harris, University of Connecticut, Storrs
“This Journal is my safety valve,” seventeen-year-old Caroline Healey Dall wrote on November 12, 1839 (12). For decades to come, the diary remained her place to ponder, rant, speculate, admonish, adore, and contemplate her life and her writing skills. Beginning in 1838 and continuing until just a year before her death, Dall’s writings are also a rich repository of cultural issues that emerged throughout the nineteenth century.
Making the “America of Art”: Cultural Nationalism and Nineteenth-Century Women Writers by Naomi Z. Sofer, and Reclaiming Authorship: Literary Women in America, 1850-1900 by Susan S. Williams
Monika Elbert, Montdair State University
While male writers discussed this new aesthetic in literary essays in privileged forums like the Atlantic Monthly, Sofer argues, female writers addressed the new cultural nationalism and the role of the artist in their novels. Williams, on the other hand, believes that antebellum women frequently gave vent to their creativity by engaging in informal literary activities, like letter-writing, writing for gift annuals, and reading/writing in the domestic setting of the parlor, and this informal habit of sharing one’s work led the way to the professional female author in post-bellum America.
American Women Authors and Literary Property, 1822-1869 by Melissa J. Homestead and Women, Money, and the Law: Nineteenth-Century Fiction, Gender, and the Courts by Joyce W. Warren
Thomas Lilly, Georgia Institute of Technology
In American Women Authors and Literary Property, Melissa Homestead (building upon Meredith McGill’s American Literature and the Culture of Reprinting) frames female authorship as one facet of the greater economic structure of the mid-century literary marketplace, legal dimensions of which privileged readers’ claims to the usefulness of print materials over authors’ proprietary claims to their works. Though she emphasizes how women authors imagined “the struggle and dispossession . . . not secure possession” of their works in print, the experiences of her female authors come to represent the kinds of struggles authors throughout the period faced, as law affected how authors conceived of their relationship to literary works (as products of imagination and as commodities), publishers (as distributors of their works), and readers (as the ultimate arbiters of their works’ value) (61).
Blood and Irony: Southern White Women’s Narratives of the Civil War, 1861-1937 by Sarah E. Gardner, and Rehabilitating Bodies: Health, History, and the American Civil War by Lisa A. Long.
Jane E. Schultz, Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis
A final chapter on “African American Scholars and the Discipline of History” relates how historians such as George Washington Williams and Joseph T. Wilson rescued black veterans from fin-de-siecle oblivion only to resuscitate their exploitation as “mechanized resources that are passed from an agricultural to a military machine” (233). Gardner’s synthesis of biography, personal narrative, history, and fiction by white women surveys in broad strokes the evolution of Lost Cause mythology and the renationalization of Confederate narratives by demonstrating “the continuing dialogue between interpreters and interpretations” of the war (4).
At Home in the City: Urban Domesticity in American Literature and Culture, 1850-1930 by Betsy Klimasmith
Meredith Goldsmith, Ursinus College
The author counters this view in chapter one through the innovative juxtaposition of The Blithedale Romance and Ruth Hall, both of which, she argues, “explore the promise and expose the threats posed by the unfamiliar subject who develops in the city’s domestic spaces” (18).
Leslie M. Hammer, University of California, San Diego