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Title:New Men for New Women: Male Characters in American Women's Writing, 1794--1878
Author(s):Kanter, Robert Eugene
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Baym, Nina
Department / Program:English
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Women's Studies
Abstract:This dissertation examines representations of men and manhood in novels by five American women published between 1794 and 1878. It demonstrates that despite differences in form, setting, and artistic aim, these novels valorize similarly constituted male characters, the "new men" of my title. New men define themselves by affectionate family relationships and cooperative ties with friends and community, in contrast to the competitive, money-mad aristocrats they supplant. Together with the independent female characters that feminist critics have described in this fiction, new men make possible stable, nurturing families, which in turn are the foundation necessary for the success of the new Republic. I begin with two seduction novels, Susanna Rowson's Charlotte (1794) and Hannah Webster Foster's The Coquette (1797), where new men are contrasted with European (and European style) aristocrats, and represent a preferable alternative for women as marriage partners and fathers. Next I turn to pioneering fiction by Catharine Sedgwick, including her first two novels, A New England Tale (1822) and Redwood (1824), and her later bestseller, Home (1835). In Sedgwick the new men and the women with whom they are matched achieve an even greater balance in their relationships, owing to the expanded opportunities for female self-definition there. Chapter 3 examines new men in three novels by the best-selling writer E.D.E.N. Southworth: Mark Sutherland (1854), Ishmael (1863--4), and The Hidden Hand (1859). Each of these characters is a Southern aristocrat by birth who comes to define himself in opposition to aristocratic norms via association with a marginalized group. Responding to criticism that conflates maleness with patriarchy and focuses on isolated male figures, Chapters 4,5, and 6 emphasize the preponderance and range of new men in Harriet Beecher Stowe's historical novels set in New England. In Stowe's idealized early Republic, fathers and grandfathers who respect independent women, invest themselves in the well-being of children, and privilege communal good over self-interest are the norm. In this setting younger generation males are approved as they resist the values represented by men of other cultures---sailors, urban and European-identified sophisticates, Southerners---in favor of old-time Republican values.
Issue Date:1999
Description:310 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1999.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI9953058
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-25
Date Deposited:1999

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