A Rebecca Harding Davis Reader: Life in the Iron-mills, Selected Fiction, & Essays

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9780822938873: A Rebecca Harding Davis Reader: Life in the Iron-mills, Selected Fiction, & Essays
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In an excellent critical introduction, Jean Pfaelzer integrates cultural, historical, and psychological approaches in penetrating readings of Davis's work. She emphasizes how Davis's fictional embrace of the commonplace was instrumental in the demise of American romanticism and in eroding the repressive cultural expectations for women.
Despite the need to support her husband, an impoverished young lawyer, and despite editorial pressures to exclude "unfeminine" social realities from her work, Rebecca Harding Davis refused to be silent about, as she put it, the "signification [of the] voices of the world." In the stories and essays included in this anthology, Davis gave voice to working women, slaves, freedmen, fishermen, prostitutes, wives seeking divorce, celibate utopians, and female authors. These tales entail powerful confrontations with domesticity as an ideology and sentimentality as a literary mode. As typified in her most famous story, "Life in the Iron-Mills," Davis drew creatively on a variety of literary tropes from the domestic novel, travel literature, gothic tales, and regionalism in emotional calls for reform.
In both fiction and nonfiction, Davis attacked contemporary questions such as slavery, prostitution, divorce, the Spanish-American War, the colonization of Africa, the plight of the rural South, northern racism, environmental pollution, and degraded work conditions generated by the rise of heavy industry. Written from the standpoint of a critical observer in the midst of things, Davis's work vividly recreates the social and ideological ferment of post-Civil War United States.

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In both fiction and nonfiction, Davis attacked contemporary questions such as slavery, prostitution, divorce, the Spanish-American War, the colonization of Africa, the plight of the rural South, northern racism, environmental pollution, and degraded work conditions generated by the rise of heavy industry. Written from the standpoint of a critical observer in the midst of things, Davis's work vividly re-creates the social and ideological ferment of post-Civil War United States.

About the Author:

Jean Pfaelzer is Professor of English and American Studies at the University of Delaware.

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9780822955696: A Rebecca Harding Davis Reader: “Life in the Iron Mills,” Selected Fiction, and Essays (Pitt Poetry (Paperback))

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ISBN 10:  0822955695 ISBN 13:  9780822955696
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1995
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