Troubling bodies in the fiction of Willa Cather Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
  • Clere, Sarah E.
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of English and Comparative Literature
  • Troubling Bodies examines Willa Cather's use of the human body as a means of foregrounding a range of economic and social concerns. I argue that for Cather the body provides a vehicle through which she explores potentially volatile issues that both the restrictive cultural climate in which she wrote and her own aesthetic sensibilities made it difficult to pursue rhetorically. In locating these issues on and around characters' mutable bodies, Cather subtly demonstrates a significant engagement with contemporary culture. At the same time, she avoids didactic and discursive rhetoric that might have cluttered her famously smooth prose and overt political stances that could have bound her fiction too closely to contemporary events, rendering it irrelevant and anachronistic to later audiences. Ultimately, Cather's treatment of the body contributes substantially to her status as a modernist, allowing her to resist enclosure within such potentially limiting frameworks as regionalism or local color. Tracing this idea across an array of novels, I consider Cather's treatment of bodies in The Song of the Lark, One of Ours, The Professor's House, My Antonia, and Sapphira and the Slave Girl.
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  • In Copyright
  • "... in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Department of English and Comparative Literature."
  • Flora, Joseph M.
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Place of publication
  • Chapel Hill, NC
  • Open access

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