Willa Cather and the Nineteenth Century explores, with textual specificity and historical alertness, the question of how the cultures of the nineteenth century—the cultures that shaped Willa Cather’s childhood, animated her education, supplied her artistic models, generated her inordinate ambitions, and gave embodiment to many of her deeply held values—are addressed in her fiction.
In two related sets of essays, seven contributors track within Cather’s life or writing the particular cultural formations, emotions, and conflicts of value she absorbed from the atmosphere of her distinct historical moment; their ten colleagues offer a compelling set of case studies that articulate the manifold ways that Cather learned from, built upon, or resisted models provided by particular nineteenth-century writers, works, or artistic genres. Taken together with its Cather Studies predecessor, Willa Cather and Modern Cultures, this volume reveals Cather as explorer and interpreter, sufferer and master of the transition from a Victorian to a Modernist America.
Anne L. Kaufman teaches mathematics at Milton Academy and is a visiting lecturer in English at Bridgewater State University. Her work has appeared in Western American Literature, Canadian Literature, Western Historical Quarterly, and elsewhere. Richard H. Millington is Helen and Laura Shedd Professor of English at Smith College. He is the author of essays on Cather’s modernism and of Practicing Romance: Narrative Form and Cultural Engagement in Hawthorne’s Fiction, and he is the editor of The Cambridge Companion to Nathaniel Hawthorne and the Norton Critical Edition of Hawthorne’s The Blithedale Romance.
List of Illustrations
Anne L. Kaufman and Richard H. Millington
Part 1. Contexts
1. Willa Cather, Sarah Orne Jewett, and the Historiography of Lesbian Sexuality
Melissa J. Homestead
2. Cather’s Readers, Traditionalism, and Modern America
3. Time Out of Place: Modernity and the Rise of Environmentalism in Willa Cather’s O Pioneers!
Leila C. Nadir
4. Contamination, Modernity, Health, and Art in Edith Wharton and Willa Cather
5. From Sentimentality to Sex: The Circus Motif in Willa Cather’s Writing
Steven B. Shively
6. Daughter of a War Lost, Won, and Evaded: Cather and the Ambiguities of the Civil War
7. A [Slave] Girl’s Life in Virginia before the War: Willa Cather and Antebellum Nostalgia
Part 2. Precursors and Influences
8. Cather’s Jewett: Relationship, Influence, and Representation
9. Willa Cather and the Example of Henry James
10. Kindred Spirits: Willa Cather and Henry James
John J. Murphy
11. The Rise of Godfrey St. Peter: Cather’s Modernism and the Howellsian Pretext
Joseph C. Murphy
12. Echoes of Stephen Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage in Willa Cather’s One of Ours
13. Thackeray’s Henry Esmond and The Virginians: Literary Prototypes for My Mortal Enemy
Richard C. Harris
14. "One Knows It Too Well to Know It Well": Willa Cather, A. E. Housman, and A Shropshire Lad
15. Following the Lieder: Cather, Schubert, and Lucy Gayheart
16. Pompeii and the House of the Tragic Poet in A Lost Lady
17. Making It New: O Pioneers! as Modernist Bildungsroman