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Regional Fictions Culture and Identity in Nineteenth-century American Literature by Stephanie Foote

Regional Fictions Culture and Identity in Nineteenth-century American Literature


Regional Fictions Culture and Identity in Nineteenth-century American Literature by Stephanie Foote

Out of many, one - e pluribus unum - is the motto of the American nation, and it sums up neatly the paradox that Stephanie Foote so deftly identifies in Regional Fictions. Regionalism, the genre that ostensibly challenges or offers an alternative to nationalism, in fact characterizes and perhaps even defines the American sense of nationhood. In particular, Foote argues that the colorful local characters, dialects, and accents that marked regionalist novels and short stories of the late nineteenth century were key to the genre's conversion of seemingly dangerous political differences - such as those posed by disaffected midwestern farmers or recalcitrant foreign nationals - into appealing cultural differences. She asserts that many of the most treasured beliefs about the value of local identities still held in the United States today are traceable to the discourses of this regional fiction, and she illustrates her contentions with insightful examinations of the work of Sarah Orne Jewett, Hamlin Garland, Gertrude Atherton, George Washington Cable, Jacob Riis, and others. Broadening the definitions of regional writing and its imaginative territory, Regional Fictions moves beyond literary criticism to comment on the ideology of national, local, ethnic, and racial identity.


Interest in regionalism is on the rise in literary studies and American studies, influenced by cultural geography, and there is a real need for a work that rethinks the genre of regionalist literature and its literary, political, and social importance. Regional Fictions is that book. Its scope and intelligence ensure that it will be widely read. - Priscilla Wald, author of Constituting Americans: Cultural Anxiety and Narrative Form A first-rate work of literary and cultural criticism. - Eva Cherniavsky, author of That Pale Mother Rising: Sentimental Discourses and the Imitation of Motherhood in Nineteenth-Century America

About the Author

Stephanie Foote is assistant professor of English at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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Book Info

Publication date

30th April 2001


Stephanie Foote

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University of Wisconsin Press


256 pages


Literary studies: c 1800 to c 1900
Literary studies: fiction, novelists & prose writers
Cultural studies



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