|About the Book|
Stephanie Thompson is absolutely right that it makes no sense to talk about modernism without including the work of Wharton and Cather and other more middlebrow writers like Loos and Hurst. . . . Thompsons study gives us much to think about as weMoreStephanie Thompson is absolutely right that it makes no sense to talk about modernism without including the work of Wharton and Cather and other more middlebrow writers like Loos and Hurst. . . . Thompsons study gives us much to think about as we struggle to understand the sometimes conflicting, often overlapping literary experiments of turn-of-the-last-century writers.--Katherine Joslin, Western Michigan UniversityA definite contribution to the fields of womens literature and modernism . . . in restoring to our consciousness some of the continuities that were denied first by the more powerful group of modernist writers, then by critics following in their wake.--Susan K. Harris, Pennsylvania State UniversityIn Influencing Americas Tastes, Stephanie Thompson offers a new way to understand such late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century women authors as Alcott, Wharton, Cather, Hurst, and Loos by examining their fiction and aesthetics in light of the emerging middlebrow culture of the era. She finds important parallels between the work of these women and the goals of the modernist movement that can offer insights into the complicated relationship between the middlebrow culture and the literary critics who articulated its taste. What is revealed is a combination of cultural and gender politics that marginalized these authors writing as aesthetically second-rate.Unlike most feminist analyses of these authors, Thompson concentrates on their aesthetic concerns as expressed in autobiographies, letters, and critical essays, along with close readings of their fiction. She moves beyond the individual writers to consider the ways that scholars and critics have categorized them over time, offering a correction that enlarges our definition of modernism.Not only does this book contribute much to the reappraisal of women writers before, during, and after the period that literary scholars have constructed as modernist, but Thompsons understanding of social history and its ideological implications promises to influence current thinking about how literary history is constructed as well.Stephanie Lewis Thompson is a lecturer in English at Peace College, Raleigh, N.C.