Cather Studies, Volume 12


Cather Studies, Volume 12

Willa Cather and the Arts

Edited by Guy J. Reynolds

Cather Studies Series

246 pages
10 illustrations, index


January 2020


$40.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

January 2020


$40.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

January 2020


$40.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

Over the five decades of her writing career Willa Cather responded to, and entered into dialogue with, shifts in the terrain of American life. These cultural encounters informed her work as much as the historical past in which much of her writing is based. Cather was a multifaceted cultural critic, immersing herself in the arts, broadly defined: theater and opera, art, narrative, craft production. Willa Cather and the Arts shows that Cather repeatedly engaged with multiple forms of art, and that even when writing about the past she was often addressing contemporary questions.

The essays in this volume are informed by new modes of contextualization, including the increasingly popular view of Cather as a pivotal or transitional figure working between and across very different cultural periods and by the recent publication of Cather’s correspondence. The collection begins by exploring the ways Cather encountered and represented high and low cultures, including Cather’s use of “racialized vernacular” in Sapphira and the Slave Girl. The next set of essays demonstrates how historical research, often focusing on local features in Cather’s fiction, contributes to our understanding of American culture, from musicological sources to the cultural development of Pittsburgh. The final trio of essays highlights current Cather scholarship, including a food studies approach to O Pioneers! and an examination of Cather’s use of ancient philosophy in The Professor’s House. Together the essays reassess Cather’s lifelong encounter with, and interpretation and reimagining of, the arts.

Author Bio

Guy J. Reynolds is a professor of English at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and the director of the Cather Project. He is the author of Apostles of Modernity: American Writers in the Age of Development (Nebraska, 2008) and Willa Cather in Context: Progress, Race, Empire, as well as a former general editor of the Willa Cather Scholarly Edition series.



"Willa Cather and the Arts reveals a writer deeply embedded in, and curious about, her geographical, historical, and cultural moment."—Maura D'Amore, Great Plains Quarterly

"The collected essays within volume 12 of Cather Studies offer an invaluable addition to every Cather scholar's library—just as it presents fresh and readable new insights for the more casual Cather enthusiast."—Kim Vanderlaan, American Literary Realism

"A must for Cather readers."—N. Birns, Choice

"This twelfth volume of Cather Studies continues an active conversation in Cather scholarship about the writer’s engagement with artistic traditions, such as painting and opera. One solid strength of this particular collection . . . is its expansive definition of the arts in Cather’s work—inclusive of both traditional arts like painting and music as well as domestic arts, Black vernacular in poetry, illustrations, and consumer objects."—Holly Blackford, Western American Literature

Table of Contents


List of Illustrations

Introduction: Willa Cather and the Arts

Guy J. Reynolds

1. “A Lot of Things”: The Value of the Vernacular in Shadows on the Rock

Diane Prenatt

2. “Down by de Canebrake”: Willa Cather, Sterling A. Brown, and the Racialized Vernacular

Janis P. Stout

3. The Singer as Artist: Willa Cather, Olive Fremstad, and the Artist’s Voice

Sarah L. Young

4. Cather’s Evolving Ear: Music Reheard in the Late Fiction

John H. Flannigan

5. Memory and Image: Graphemics for a New Frontier Icon in My Ántonia

Joyce Kessler

6. “Paul’s Case” and Pittsburgh: Industry and Art in the Great Manufacturing Town

James A. Jaap

7. Under the White Mulberry Tree: Food and Artistry in Cather’s Orchards

Stephanie Tsank

8. “The Passionless Bride”: Love, Loss, and Lucretius in The Professor’s House

Matthew Hokum

9. Advertising Willa Cather as Product

Erika K. Hamilton



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