Rural Fictions, Urban Realities: A Geography of Gilded Age American Literature

ISBN : 9780199893188

Mark Storey
208 Pages
155 x 242 mm
Pub date
Feb 2013
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This study of late nineteenth-century American literature begins with a simple question: how did the rise of an urban society affect the ways in which the nation's writers represented the countryside? In offering an answer, Rural Fictions, Urban Realities remaps our understanding of American literature by examining the period through its 'rural fictions'. From the coasts of Maine to the ranches of Wyoming, and from the farms of the Midwest to the small towns of the South, tales of rural life reveal the profound and sometimes problematic connections between rural America and its growing urban centers between the 1870s and the 1900s. Moreover, those connections are illuminated by showing how the representation of vital, contested, and sometimes controversial aspects of everyday life-train journeys, travelling circuses, country doctors, and lynch mobs-offer a distinct way of understanding the era's deeper social transformations. In keeping with this unique approach to the period's literature, this book ranges across a number of works by writers who have largely dropped out of scholarly discussion (Edward Eggleston, Alice Brown, Joseph Kirkland, Mary Noailles Murfree, and Booth Tarkington, to name a few) whilst also reexamining works by more well-known figures (Sarah Orne Jewett, Owen Wister, Charles Chesnutt, William Dean Howells, and Hamlin Garland, amongst others). Rural Fictions, Urban Realities proposes a new literary geography of Gilded Age America, and in the process contributes to our understanding of how we represent and register the cultural complexities of modernization.


Rural Fictions, Urban Realities
Chapter One
Lines of time, sight and capital: Train Journeys
Chapter Two
Commerce and Carnival at the Canvas City: Travelling Circuses
Chapter Three
The Place of Medical Knowledge: Country Doctors
Chapter Four
A Government of Men and Not of Laws: Lynch Mobs
Chapter Five
Geographies of the Future: Utopias

About the author: 

Mark Storey is Associate Lecturer at the University of Nottingham.

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