Beyond the Gibson Girl : Reimagining the American New Woman, 1895-1915
Challenging monolithic images of the New Woman as white, well-educated, and politically progressive, this study focuses on important regional, ethnic, and sociopolitical differences in the use of the New Woman trope at the turn of the twentieth century. Using Charles Dana Gibson's \u0022Gibson Girls\u0022 as a point of departure, Martha H. Patterson explores how writers such as Pauline Hopkins, Margaret Murray Washington, Sui Sin Far, Mary Johnston, Edith Wharton, Ellen Glasgow, and Willa Cather challenged and redeployed the New Woman image in light of other \u0022new\u0022 conceptions: the \u0022New Negro Woman,\u0022 the \u0022New Ethics,\u0022 the \u0022New South,\u0022 and the \u0022New China.\u0022As she appears in these writers' works, the New Woman both promises and threatens to effect sociopolitical change as a consumer, an instigator of evolutionary and economic development, and, for writers of color, an icon of successful assimilation into dominant Anglo-American culture. Examining a diverse array of cultural products, Patterson shows how the seemingly celebratory term of the New Woman becomes a trope not only of progressive reform, consumer power, transgressive femininity, modern energy, and modern cure, but also of racial and ethnic taxonomies, social Darwinist struggle, imperialist ambition, assimilationist pressures, and modern decay.
- Paperback | 248 pages
- 154 x 234 x 20mm | 439.98g
- 18 Jun 2008
- University of Illinois Press
- Baltimore, United States
"Beyond the Gibson Girl reveals the great benefits of an interdisciplinary study of American culture. . . . Patterson draws heavily on literary analysis as well as on a wide variety of social commentaries, on social scientific and evolutionary theories of the period, and on contemporary visual theory. This combination of sources places what may have been perceived to be a rather simplistic ideal into a complex cultural framework that includes many of the significant issues of the period."--Register of the Kentucky Historical Society "An engaging and thought-provoking analysis of the Gibson Girl. . . . As cultural history and as literary analysis, the book succeeds in deepening our understanding of a potent American icon."--American Historical Review "Patterson is to be lauded for problematizing the figure of the New Woman in literature and popular culture beyond what has been done in any previous studies, especially in the way she examines the competing and conflicting claims, constraints, and possibilities for women."--Journal of American History "Patterson's work is insightful, penetrating, and highly readable. . . . Highly recommended."--Choice "Beyond the Gibson Girl is an interesting, important, and highly readable study defining the New Woman, a figure of enduring importance to both cultural and literary history. Martha Patterson looks wisely beyond any fixed perspective to show how differently this figure is conceived depending on the perspectives from which she is viewed, and the effects on this image of issues of region, race, ethnicity, and social class."--Elsa Nettels, professor of English, emeritus, College of William and Mary
About Martha H. Patterson
Martha H. Patterson is an associate professor of English at McKendree University, Lebanon, Illinois.