Volume 39 Number 1

Harriet Pollack (Ed.)

Having Our Way: Women Rewriting Tradition in Twentieth-Century America

1995
204 pages
ISBN 0838753183
Bucknell Review

Having Our Way is a collection of new essays on twentieth-century American women writers who meet, manage, fail to manage, revise and rewrite, engage and enter a literary tradition that has increasingly made way for and been altered by women - their perceptions, issues, visions, and revisions. The collection considers the work of ten women writers: Nella Larsen, Zelda Fitzgerald, Flannery O'Connor, Eudora Welty, Sylvia Plath, Hisaye Yamamoto, Toni Morrison, Maxine Hong Kingston, Louise Erdich, and Sandra Cisneros. Contributor Deborah Grayson writes on the "body politics" of Larsen's Passing, a novel that she argues destabilizes the traditional mulatta plot and its conventional treatment of the problematized body space where racial demarcations assumed to be visible are blurred. Michelle Payne produces a provocative and textured reading of anorexia nervosa when she reinvents Fitzgerald as a possible anorexic writing about the discipline of her body in Save Me the Waltz. Katherine Hemple Prown uncovers O'Connor's buried female identity, her gender-sensitive revision of manuscripts for the male literary establishment that she wished to join, and her use of God to authorize her female authorship. Barbara Ladd challenges the prevalent view of Welty as an "ahistorical" writer anomalous among Southern writers so much defined by their attention to history. Jacqueline Shea Murphy writes about the mutilated, tortured bodies that dominate Plath's late work and suggests that the "consuming violence" in the discourse of power is her topic. King-Kok Cheung brings Yamamoto's story, "A Fire in Fontana," to a discussion of contemporary racism and the L.A. riots and to the experience of teaching multiculturalism. Susan Ferrell locates Morrison's Song of Solomon in its historical context and reads it as a response both to developing postmodernism and to the discourse of the 1960s and 1970s that phrased "racial liberation as a struggle to attain manhood." Amy Ling considers the dialogism of the Asian-American writer by focusing on Kingston's writing "between worlds," especially rich and difficult when language jarringly shifts between cultures. Kristan Sarve-Gorham finds Anishinabe sacred twin mythology in the structure of Erdich's novels where lines of power generationally from two medicine women - Fleur Pillager and Pauline Puyat - who represent different definitions of power that can only find resolution in balance. Andrea Hererra writing on "Chambers of Consciousness" in Cisneros's House on Mango Street considers Cisneros's relationship to the American "house of fiction."

Contributors: Deborah R. Grayson, Michelle Payne, Katherine Hemple Prown, Barbara Ladd, Jacqueline Shea Murphy, King-Kok Cheung, Susan Farrell, Amy Ling, Kristan Sarve-Gorham, and Andrea O'Reilly Herrera.

About the editor:

Harriet Pollack is Associate Professor of English at Bucknell Univeristy.

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