The Center of the World: Regional Writing and the Puzzles of Place-Time

ISBN : 9780198821397

June Howard
352 ページ
156 x 234 mm
Oxford Studies in American Literary History

Regional Writing and the Puzzles of Place-Time is a study of literary regionalism. It focuses on the fiction of the United States and considers the place of the genre in world literature. Regionalism is usually understood to be a literature bound to the local, but this study explores how regional writing shapes ways of imagining not only the neighborhood or the province, but also the nation, and ultimately the world. Its key premise is that thinking about place always entails imagining time. It analyzes how concepts crystallize across disciplines and in everyday discourse and proposes ways of revising American literary history and close readings of particular authors' work. It demonstrates, for example, the importance of the figure of the school-teacher and the one-room schoolhouse in local color and subsequent place-focused writing. Such representations embody the contested relation in modernity between localities and the knowledge they produce, and books that carry metropolitan and cosmopolitan learning. The volume discusses fiction from the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries, including works by Sui Sin Far/Edith Eaton, Sarah Orne Jewett, Ernest Gaines, Wendell Berry, and Ursula LeGuin as well as romance novels and regional mysteries.


1 From the Ground Up: Thinking about Location and Literature
2 Local Knowledge and Book-Learning: Placing the Teacher in Regional Writing
3 The Unexpected Jewett
4 World-Making Words, by Edith Eaton and Sui Sin Far
5 Regionalisms Now
In the Place of a Conclusion


June Howard earned her B.A. at Antioch College and her Ph.D. from the Literature Department at the University of California, San Diego. She is on the faculty of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, where she holds appointments in English, American Culture, and Women's Studies. Her research focuses on the literature and culture of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century in the United States, and also addresses broad questions about the social life of reading and the production of knowledge. Her previous books are Form and History in American Literary Naturalism, an edited volume of essays on Sarah Orne Jewett, and Publishing the Family--a microhistory that takes the serial publication in Harper's Bazar of a collaborative novel by twelve authors, including Henry James and Mary Wilkins Freeman, as a window into the year 1908 and the 'public/private' binary as constitutive of modernity.