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By Ann Romines

A finely crafted learn outfitted on twenty years of feminist scholarship to teach how household ritual has helped to form substance and tone of a few of the easiest fiction via American girls.

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Additional resources for The home plot: women, writing & domestic ritual

Sample text

My work has also been sparked and challenged by the responses of my graduate and undergraduate students of the past ten years. Colleagues at other universities have heard, read, and responded usefully to portions of this book in earlier versions. I am especially endebted to Ann Fisher-Wirth, Josephine Donovan, and Susan Rosowski. At the University of Massachusetts Press, my manuscript found sympathetic and scrupulous editors in Pam Wilkinson and Bruce Wilcox. Special thanks to my parents, Ruth Rogers Romines and Elmer Romines, Page x for their many years of loving support, and to my astute and generous sister, Marilyn Romines, who patiently listened to this book taking shape over many long dinners at her table and mine.

As Nina Baym has emphasized in an influential essay, "we never read American literature directly or freely, but always through the perspective allowed by theories" ("Melodramas" 63). The theories that have determined the American literary canon have taken little notice of texts by women that focus on women's domestic lives. For example, in a much-cited and promisingly titled 1979 study, Home as Found: Authority and Genealogy in Nineteenth-Century. American Literature, Eric Sundquist considers issues that are relevant to domestic life and writers who explore it.

Thus at the most basic level of metaphor, the practice of housekeeping is problematically associated with women's work and with female power. Stowe's telling passage implies the difficulties of this complex heritage; even for the most sympathetic observer, it is almost impossible to perceive a woman such as Aunt Roxy as a distinguishable individual. The culture has a vested interest in the suppression of Aunt Roxy's personality. Her blank impassivity is ''beneficent,'' and any lapse into personal expression is a story too "awful" to read.

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