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Women, Compulsion, Modernity

The Moment of American Naturalism

The 1890s have long been thought one of the most male-oriented eras in American history. But in reading such writers as Frank Norris with Mary Wilkins Freeman and Charlotte Perkins Gilman with Stephen Crane, Jennifer L. Fleissner boldly argues that feminist claims in fact shaped the period’s cultural mainstream. Women, Compulsion, Modernity reopens a moment when the young American woman embodied both the promise and threat of a modernizing world.

Fleissner shows that this era’s expanding opportunities for women were inseparable from the same modern developments—industrialization, consumerism—typically believed to constrain human freedom. With Women, Compulsion, and Modernity, Fleissner creates a new language for the strange way the writings of the time both broaden and question individual agency.

320 pages | 6 x 9 | © 2004

Women in Culture and Society

Gender and Sexuality

Literature and Literary Criticism: American and Canadian Literature

Women's Studies

Table of Contents

1. The Compulsion to Describe
2. The Great Outdoors
3. A Mania for the Moment
4. The New Woman & the Old Man
5. Saving Herself
6. The Rhythm Method
Works Cited

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