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Title:Spinsters, cowboys, and cosmopolites: Short story representations of America in late-Victorian periodicals
Author(s):Windholz, Anne Marie
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Baym, Nina
Department / Program:English
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Literature, American
Literature, English
Abstract:This dissertation examines how short story representations of America published in English periodicals between 1880 and 1900 shaped perceptions of America and American literature. As arbiters of the discursive field provided by Victorian periodicals, English magazine editors and reviewers controlled and indeed constructed a dominant "American" short story, a construction often independent of an author's national origin but clearly grounded in certain modes of presentation. After 1880 the most prevalent "American" short story emerging from the short fiction discourse in English magazines is one marginalized by an editorial and critical emphasis on the primitivism of short story features usually considered distinctly American: native humor, local color, and dialect. The resulting construct contributed to England's imperialist self-presentation by implying that the United States, though independent, was still little more than a colonial outpost--a provincial wilderness peopled by the unsophisticated and sometimes uncivilized. Confined within this representation, short stories by Americans were not likely to have an impact on British short fiction development; only a change in English perspective and policy towards the United States could create an environment conducive to constructive, rather than exploitive, Anglo-American literary exchange.
Such a change did take place in the latter half of the 1890s. The breakdown in the primitivist construct, signaled by increased publication of more cosmopolitan short stories by and about Americans, as well as greater acknowledgement of the artistry of American short story writers, coincides with the United States' emergence as a world power and Britain's desire for an Anglo-American alliance. Implicitly, if grudgingly, the idea of a respectable culture in the United States enters the discursive field. By 1900 an Anglo-American short story discourse had emerged which promoted trans-Atlantic political understanding while facilitating new developments in the English short story.
The Cornhill Magazine, the English Illustrated Magazine, Black and White, the Yellow Book, and the Athenaeum receive extended treatment in this study. The thesis includes appendices listing short stories by American writers published in the first four of these magazines, and the reviews of American short story collections appearing in the Athenaeum, between 1880 and 1900.
Issue Date:1990
Rights Information:Copyright 1990 Windholz, Anne Marie
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9114465
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9114465

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