Willa Cather and the American Southwest


Willa Cather and the American Southwest

Edited by John N. Swift and Joseph R. Urgo

180 pages


June 2002


$45.00 Add to Cart

June 2004


$19.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

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.

Author Bio

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.


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

“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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