NOTES AND OBSERVATIONS ON SHOWALTER'S 'A JURY OF HER PEERS' CH. 12 and 13
Jury of Her Peers is a book that traces the development of women’s literature in the United States. These notes are taken from the book as part of the Diverse Women Writers course at Salt Lake Community College. The title of the book is taken from a short story that involves a wife killing her husband.
Ch. 12 Against Women’s Writing: Wharton and Cather
Edith Wharton and Willa Cather wrote from men’s perspectives.
(Are today’s writers handicapped by a lack of letter writing?)
Wharton – a man’s woman
Recalled childhood at home with the “almost pagan worship of physical beauty.”
Mocked American life from abroad
(A lot of female writers write about characters who are writers.)
Equally limiting worlds of men
Treated men and women with the crises of their genders
(The trappings of power with actual power – the vote)
The Age of Innocence
Cather – Journalist; practical thoughts – out with sentimentalism
(Why must a woman be without sentiment?)
Personal life becomes paler as imaginative life becomes richer,
V-shaped gorge as womanhood pointed out in 1976 is like taking a bible verse out of context. (Sherlock Holmes said, Put that on your blog, or better yet, don’t and stop inflicting the world with your opinion.)
Ch. 13 You MIght as Well Live
Ellen Glasgow – late success with Barren Ground; felt isolated as a person
Edith Summers Kelley – Weeds; monotony of rural life
Sara Teasdale – poet; “Women shouldn’t write.” Love for women = art for men.
(Said one thing, did another) Love as the woman’s existence, yet has an abortion.
Suicide – (couldn’t reconcile her art with her life or her ideals)
Elinor Wylie – silver and white colors; Virginia Woolf did not like her; Wylie skewered herself in a poem (literarily)
Edna St. Vincent Millay – the greatest poetess of the 1920s; drudgery; all about sex and sonnets
Genevieve Taggard – political poet; socialist; attended Berkley; married a novelist
Child made life difficult, especially with her husband requiring her to do it all.
Dorothy Parker – attempted suicide; alcoholic
Louise Bogan – intellectual; poet who faded with age
Sophie Treadwell – Machinal – play in nine scenes; anorexic
Dorothy Canfield Fisher – America “comedy of emancipation;” turning housewives into homemakers;
The Home-maker (1924) explores man’s dissatisfaction with work and woman’s dissatisfaction with homemaking. Husband gets fired and attempts suicide, which leaves him paralyzed, for the insurance. The wife goes to work; the family flourishes. Husband’s paralysis is psychological, but his returning to work would destroy the family’s happiness. Doctor saves the family. Fisher believes that one partner has to be crippled in order for marriage to work. She also explores the psychological and social stigma of role reversal.
Anzia Yezierska – affair with John Dewey, educational theorist. Immigrant, user of people/saleswoman
(Is WASP, white Anglo Saxon princess, derogatory? The equivalent of Jewish American princess, JAP?)
Jessie Redmon Fauset – Harlem modernist; labors of skin care, dress making, laundry, hairdressing
Conflict between femininity and creativity
“Passing” (passing for white when you are not?)
Didn’t necessarily deal with race but dealt with feminism
Nella Larsen – white and black = neither; nonconformist; race may be a false construct; career ended with plagiarism.