Opening Acts


Opening Acts

Narrative Beginnings in Twentieth-Century Feminist Fiction

Catherine Romagnolo

Frontiers of Narrative Series

192 pages
1 figure


October 2015


$55.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

October 2015


$55.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

October 2015


$55.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

In the beginning there was . . . the beginning. And with the beginning came the power to tell a story. Few book-length studies of narrative beginnings exist, and not one takes a feminist perspective. Opening Acts reveals the important role of beginnings as moments of discursive authority with power and agency that have been appropriated by writers from historically marginalized groups. Catherine Romagnolo argues for a critical awareness of how social identity plays a role in the strategic use and critical interpretation of narrative beginnings.

The twentieth-century U.S. women writers whom Romagnolo studies—Edith Wharton, H.D., Toni Morrison, Julia Alvarez, and Amy Tan—have seized the power to disrupt conventional structures of authority and undermine historical master narratives of marriage, motherhood, U.S. nationhood, race, and citizenship. Using six of their novels as points of entry, Romagnolo illuminates the ways in which beginnings are potentially subversive, thereby disrupting the reinscription of hierarchically gendered and racialized conceptions of authorship and agency.

Author Bio

Catherine Romagnolo is an associate professor of English and chair of the Department of English at Lebanon Valley College. Her work has appeared in Studies in the Novel and Analyzing World Fiction: New Horizons in Narrative Theory and has been anthologized in Narrative Beginnings: Theories and Practices (Nebraska, 2009).


"A welcome addition to the field of narrative theory."—Marilyn Edelstein, Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature

“The field of feminist narratology is growing, but none of these theory-driven books offers the kind of rich, in-depth study of one historical-geographical collocation of texts that Opening Acts does. Any teacher or student of literary theory, of the history of the novel, or of feminist and ethnic approaches to literature would find something of great interest in this book.”—Margaret Homans, professor of English and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies at Yale University and author of Bearing the Word: Language and Female Experience in Nineteenth-Century Women’s Writing

“The subject of narrative beginnings is important to literary criticism in several different fields: national literary traditions as well as comparative literature. . . . Romagnolo seeks to right the course of the early studies in this area by emphasizing feminist and ethnic-studies-inflected readings. Opening Acts contributes an overview of the existing literature, an assessment of what is lacking in that corpus, and an extrapolation of concepts to include often-neglected subjects in this field . . . expanding the established theoretical frame for narrative beginnings.”—Carlos Riobó, chair of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at the City College of New York and author of Cuban Intersection of Literary and Urban Spaces 

Table of Contents

1. No Place for Her Individual Adventure: Motherhood, Marriage, and New Beginnings in Summer
2. Waves of Beginnings: The Ebb of Heterosexual Romance in Paint It Today
3. Moving in Lofty Spirals: Circularity and Narrative Beginnings in The Bluest Eye
4. Circling the History of Slavery: Multilayered Beginnings in Beloved
5. Swan Feathers and Coca-Cola: Authenticity and Origins in The Joy Luck Club
6. Bordering Yolanda García: Recessive Origins in How the García Girls Lost Their Accents

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