American Culture, Canons, and the Case of Elizabeth Stoddard by Robert Mcclure Smith, Ellen Weinauer (eds.)

By Robert Mcclure Smith, Ellen Weinauer (eds.)

Elizabeth Stoddard was once a talented author of fiction, poetry, and journalism; effectively released inside of her personal lifetime; esteemed through such writers as William Dean Howells and Nathaniel Hawthorne; and positioned on the epicenter of latest York's literary global. still, she has been virtually excluded from literary reminiscence and value. This booklet seeks to appreciate why. by way of reconsidering Stoddard’s lifestyles and paintings and her present marginal prestige within the evolving canon of yankee literary experiences, it increases very important questions about women’s writing within the nineteenth century and canon formation within the twentieth century.
 
Essays during this research find Stoddard within the context of her contemporaries, similar to Dickinson and Hawthorne, whereas others situate her paintings within the context of significant 19th-century cultural forces and concerns, between them the Civil battle and Reconstruction, race and ethnicity, anorexia and feminine invalidism, nationalism and localism, and incest. One essay examines the improvement of Stoddard's paintings within the mild of her biography, and others probe her stylistic and philosophic originality, the journalistic roots of her voice, and the elliptical issues of her brief fiction. Stoddard’s lifelong undertaking to articulate the character and dynamics of woman's subjectivity, her not easy remedy of girl urge for food and may, and her depiction of the advanced and sometimes ambivalent relationships that white middle-class girls needed to their family areas also are thoughtfully considered.
 
The editors argue that the overlook of Elizabeth Stoddard's contribution to American literature is a compelling instance of the contingency of serious values and the instability of literary historical past. This examine asks the query, “Will Stoddard endure?” Will she proceed to float into oblivion or will a brand new iteration of readers and critics safe her tenuous legacy?


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Indeed, the poet herself, in an 1882 letter to E. A. ” (qtd. ” But while Gray’s anthology represents her more fully (and, I believe, more adequately), Stoddard’s position within an evolving canon whose key founding principle is the “cultural work” performed by the literary text remains, to say the least, an extremely marginal one. In the editor’s introduction, Gray locates herself ¤rmly in the mainstream of feminist cultural studies orthodoxy in arguing that “we need to explore not just the formal qualities of the text itself but the cultural work that such an utterance, localized in time and space, might do” (xxxv).

Her volume’s commercial failure may have af¤rmed her sense of her poems’ “feeble existence,” but there is little indication that she considered her poems, the work of a lifetime, to have a “feeble” worth. “I have seen no blaze on the river as yet,” she informs her sympathetic reader. The ¤nal two words are telling in their implication that Stoddard was as ambitious for the success of her poetry as for her ¤ction. By the end of the century, after all, Stoddard had seen many of her female contemporaries ¤nd a place in the canon of American poetry, or so it must have seemed.

14 During the 1870s she also had an association, about which little is known, with a younger man named Edward Smith, who escorted her to cultural events and gave her expensive gifts—and with whom she denied having an affair. Her most important friendship was with Edmund Clarence Stedman, who remained personally devoted to her and committed to her work all her life: the frank and expressive relationship she had with him gave her some of the appreciation she found so rarely. Genuine literary recognition never came to Elizabeth Stoddard during her lifetime, but as realism came to dominate American letters, her early writing received sporadic attention.

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