The Clubwomen's Daughters: Collectivist Impulses in Progressive-era Girl's Fiction, 1890-1940

Front Cover
Taylor & Francis, 2000 - History - 162 pages
During the nineteenth-century, American women discovered that they could gain access to traditionally-male spaces such as the college campus, the playing field, and the political Woman's Suffrage Organization, the National Colored Women's Association, and the Women's Christian Temperance Union. Eager to pass on this strategy to the next generation of young women, Progressive-era clubwomen authors created narratives that featured community-minded protagonists who worked alongside their peers to achieve empowerment and self-actualization. Chapters One and Two trace the development and aims of the clubwomen's movement and include an analysis of the movement based on issues of race and class. They describe the economic factors that led culturally conservative book publishers to put aside their personal beliefs concerning women's rights in order to cash in on the lucrative girls' fiction market, and they analyze the way that young girls used their purchasing power to demand fiction that mirrored their desires for peer interaction and for access to the public realm. Chapters Three through Six demonstrate that each successive wave of progressive-era girls' fiction--from the college novel in the 1910s to the scouting novel in the 1920s to the detective novel in the 1930s--features heroines who move further into the public realm and who gain increasing autonomy and self-esteem in the process. Finally, a comparison of the lives of young readers to those of their fictional counterparts demonstrates that girls' fiction had a significant impact on its intended audience, encouraging them to create or to join peer groups and to strive for success beyond the traditional occupations of housewife and mother. Authors discussed include Christina Catrevis, Jessie Graham Flower (psued. of Josephine Chase), Frances E. W. Harper, Emma Dunham Kelley, Irene Elliot Benson, Laura Lee Hope (psued. of Lilian Garis), Carolyn Keene (psued. of Mildred Wirt Benson), and Margaret Sutton.

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