The wide-ranging essays collected in this volume of Cather Studies examine Willa Cather’s unique artistic relationship to the environment. Under the theoretical rubric of ecocriticism, these essays focus on Cather’s close observations of the natural world and how the environment proves, for most of these contributors, to be more than simply a setting for her characters. While it is certain that Cather’s novels and short stories are deeply grounded in place, literary critics are only now considering how place functions within her narratives and addressing environmental issues through her writing.
These essays reintroduce us to a Cather who is profoundly identified with the places that shaped her and that she wrote about: Glen A. Love offers an interdisciplinary reading of The Professor’s House that is scientifically oriented; Joseph Urgo argues that My Ántonia models a preservationist aesthetic in which landscape and memory are inextricably entangled; Thomas J. Lyon posits that Cather had a living sense of the biotic community and used nature as the standard of excellence for human endeavors; and Jan Goggans considers the ways that My Ántonia shifts from nativism toward a “flexible notion of place-based community.”
Susan J. Rosowski (1942-2004) is the author of Birthing a Nation: Gender, Creativity, and the West in American Literature (Nebraska 1997).
"Carefully edited and refreshingly free of jargon, Willa Cather’s Ecological Imagination is perhaps the best volume yet in a series that continues to offer fresh perspectives on one of the twentieth century’s greatest novelists."—Steven Trout, Great Plains Quarterly
“Rosowski has shed new light on Cather studies through an investigation of Cather’s work in the context of the emerging field of ecocriticism.”—Phoebe Jackson, College Literature