Rural Fictions, Urban Realities: A Geography of Gilded Age American Literature

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9780199893188: Rural Fictions, Urban Realities: A Geography of Gilded Age American Literature

The diminishment of rural life at the hands of urbanization, for many, defines the years between the end of the Civil War and the dawn of the twentieth century in the U.S. Traditional literary histories find this transformation clearly demarcated between rural tales-stories set in the countryside, marked by attention to regional dialect and close-knit communities-and grittier novels and short stories that reflected the harsh realities of America's growing cities. Challenging this conventional division, Mark Storey proffers a capacious, trans-regional version of rural fiction that contains and coexists with urban-industrial modernity.

To remap literary representations of the rural, Storey pinpoints four key aspects of everyday life that recur with surprising frequency in late nineteenth-century fiction: train journeys, travelling circuses, country doctors, and lynch mobs. Fiction by figures such as Hamlin Garland, Booth Tarkington, and William Dean Howells use railroads and roving carnivals to signify the deeper incursions of urban capitalism into the American countryside. A similar, somewhat disruptive migration of the urban into the rural occurs with the arrival of modern medicine, as viewed in depictions of the country doctor in novels like Sarah Orne Jewett's A Country Doctor and Harold Frederic's The Damnation of Theron Ware. This discussion gives way to a far darker interaction between the urban and the rural, with the intricate relationship of vigilante justice to an emerging modernity used to frame readings of rural lynchings in works by writers like Bret Harte, Charles Chesnutt, Paul Laurence Dunbar, and Owen Wister. The four arenas-transport, entertainment, medicine, and the law-used to organize the study come together in a coda devoted to utopian fiction, which demonstrates one of the more imaginative methods used to express the social and literary anxieties around the changing nature of urban and rural space at the end of the nineteenth century.

Mining a rich variety of long neglected novels and short stories, Rural Fictions, Urban Realities provides a new literary geography of Gilded Age America, and in the process, contributes to our understanding of how we represent and register the cultural complexities of modernization.

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About the Author:


Mark Storey is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Warwick.

Review:


"Mark Storey's nuanced study evokes and analyzes the continuing power of the country/city binary, at the same time showing us that rural fiction and urban modernity are inescapably connected, composing a single complex landscape. His thematic chapters--on such wide-ranging topics as train journeys, the country doctor, and lynch law--effortlessly integrate genre criticism and cultural history." --June Howard, author of Publishing the Family


"Meticulously researched and full of fascinating juxtapositions of literary and historical processes, Rural Fictions, Urban Realities bridges the divide between regionalism and modernization as it demonstrates how postbellum rural fiction documents the effects of urbanism well beyond the borders of actual cities." --Hsuan L. Hsu, author of Geography and the Production of Space in Nineteenth-Century American Literature


"By interrogating the spatial and literary configurations of urban and rural--and by dismantling their use as signposts for the modern and the pre-modern--Mark Storey redefines our understanding of the rural in fresh and exciting ways. Readers will learn much from this illuminating book." --Donna Campbell, author of Resisting Regionalism: Gender and Naturalism in American Fiction, 1885-1915


"Recommended." --Choice


The virtues of the book are many... [T]he book is, chapter by chapter, a refreshingly innovative take on the field. --The New England Quarterly


"In this ambitious first book, Storey demonstrates the importance of rural fictions as the means of complicating and refreshing our mostly one-eyed view of America's literary development. As such, Rural Fictions belongs with an emerging movement in nineteenth-century American literary studies that advocates a focus on a multidimensional modernity instead of on a singular, undeviating one... [It]provides both a new view of the literary past and a compelling reason to begin reading postbellum rural American literature."--Times Literary Supplement


"Meticulously researched and full of fascinating juxtapositions of literary and historical processes, Rural Fictions, Urban Realities bridges the divide between regionalism and modernization as it demonstrates how postbellum rural fiction documents the effects of urbanism well beyond the borders of actual cities."--Hsuan L. Hsu, author of Geography and the Production of Space in Nineteenth-Century American Literature


"By interrogating the spatial and literary configurations of urban and rural--and by dismantling their use as signposts for the modern and the pre-modern--Mark Storey redefines our understanding of the rural in fresh and exciting ways. Readers will learn much from this illuminating book."--Donna Campbell, author of Resisting Regionalism: Gender and Naturalism in American Fiction, 1885-1915


"Self-aware, critically engaged, and often compelling -- and providing a welcome corrective to the shortcomings of regionalist studies -- Rural Fictions exposes our limited views on genre, period, and geography, and it should propel us to reconsider and reinvent them."--Karen Kilcup, Journal ofAmerican Studies


"This book reminds readers of how literary fictions can not only influence but also transform our understanding of key historical events. In essence, Storey highlights the power of stories to shape and be shaped by the realities of Gilded Age America's changing geographies."--Cara Erdheim, Stud
"Storey's book is persuasive and eye-opening, making a compelling case for the importance of rural fictions for our under- standing of modernity and the process of modernization."--Nineteenth-Century Literature


"In this ambitious first book, Storey demonstrates the importance of rural fictions as the means of complicating and refreshing our mostly one-eyed view of America's literary development. As such, Rural Fictions belongs with an emerging movement in nineteenth-century American literary studies that advocates a focus on a multidimensional modernity instead of on a singular, undeviating one... [It]provides both a new view of the literary past and a compelling reason to begin reading postbellum rural American literature."--Times Literary Supplement


"Meticulously researched and full of fascinating juxtapositions of literary and historical processes, Rural Fictions, Urban Realities bridges the divide between regionalism and modernization as it demonstrates how postbellum rural fiction documents the effects of urbanism well beyond the borders of actual cities."--Hsuan L. Hsu, author of Geography and the Production of Space in Nineteenth-Century American Literature


"By interrogating the spatial and literary configurations of urban and rural--and by dismantling their use as signposts for the modern and the pre-modern--Mark Storey redefines our understanding of the rural in fresh and exciting ways. Readers will learn much from this illuminating book."--Donna Campbell, author of Resisting Regionalism: Gender and Naturalism in American Fiction, 1885-1915


"Self-aware, critically engaged, and often compelling -- and providing a welcome corrective to the shortcomings of regionalist studies -- Rural Fictions exposes our limited views on genre, period, and geography, and it should propel us to reconsider and reinvent them."--Karen Kilcup, Journal of American Studies


"This book reminds readers of how literary fictions can not only influence but also transform our understanding of key historical events. In essence, Storey highlights the power of stories to shape and be shaped by the realities of Gilded Age America's changing geographies."--Cara Erdheim, Studies in American Naturalism


"Recommended." --Choice


The virtues of the book are many... [T]he book is, chapter by chapter, a refreshingly innovative take on the field. --The New England Quarterly


"Mark Storey's nuanced study evokes and analyzes the continuing power of the country/city binary, at the same time showing us that rural fiction and urban modernity are inescapably connected, composing a single complex landscape. His thematic chapters--on such wide-ranging topics as train journeys, the country doctor, and lynch law--effortlessly integrate genre criticism and cultural history." --June Howard, author of Publishing the Family


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Book Description Oxford University Press Inc, United States, 2013. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. This study of late nineteenth-century American literature begins with a simple question: how did the rise of an urban society affect the ways in which the nation s writers represented the countryside? In offering an answer, Rural Fictions, Urban Realities remaps our understanding of American literature by examining the period through its rural fictions . From the coasts of Maine to the ranches of Wyoming, and from the farms of the Midwest to the small towns of the South, tales of rural life reveal the profound and sometimes problematic connections between rural America and its growing urban centers between the 1870s and the 1900s. Moreover, those connections are illuminated by showing how the representation of vital, contested, and sometimes controversial aspects of everyday life-train journeys, travelling circuses, country doctors, and lynch mobs-offer a distinct way of understanding the era s deeper social transformations. In keeping with this unique approach to the period s literature, this book ranges across a number of works by writers who have largely dropped out of scholarly discussion (Edward Eggleston, Alice Brown, Joseph Kirkland, Mary Noailles Murfree, and Booth Tarkington, to name a few) whilst also reexamining works by more well-known figures (Sarah Orne Jewett, Owen Wister, Charles Chesnutt, William Dean Howells, and Hamlin Garland, amongst others). Rural Fictions, Urban Realities proposes a new literary geography of Gilded Age America, and in the process contributes to our understanding of how we represent and register the cultural complexities of modernization. Bookseller Inventory # BTE9780199893188

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