Becoming Visible

Women’s Presence in Late Nineteenth-Century America


Volume Editors: Janet Floyd, R.J. Ellis, and Lindsey Traub
This exciting collection of interdisciplinary essays explores the later decades of the nineteenth century in America - the immediate postbellum period, the Gilded Age, and the Progressive Era - as a time of critical change in the cultural visibility of women, as they made new kinds of appearances throughout American society.
The essays show how, across the USA, it was fundamentally women who drove changes in their visibility forward, in groups and as individuals. Their motivations, activities and understandings were essential to shaping the character of their present society and the nation's future.
The book establishes that these women's engagement with American society and culture cannot be simply understood in terms of the traditional polarities of inside/outside and private/public, since these frames do not fit the complexities of what was happening, be it women's occupation of geographic space, their new patterns of employment, their advocacy of working-class or ethnic rights, or their literary or cultural engagement with their milieux. Such women as Ida B. Wells, Mother Jones, Jane Addams, Rebecca Harding Davis, Willa Cather, Sarah Orne Jewett, Louisa May Alcott and Kate Douglas Wiggin all come under consideration in the light of these radical changes.

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”This extraordinary collection of essays examines new situations for women in late nineteenth and early twentieth century America from social, historical, economic and literary points of view. This interdisciplinary approach results in a full and very well edited collection on the topic of women’s visibility during a time of great social change.” - Marta María Gutiérrez Rodriguez, University of Valladolid, Spain, in: The English Messenger 23.1 (Summer 2014), pp. 87-89
List of Illustrations
Alison Easton, R.J. Ellis, Janet Floyd, and Lindsey Traub: Introduction: Becoming Visible
The Changing Geography of Public and Private
Anne M. Boylan: Claiming Visibility: Women in Public / Public Women in the United States, 1865-1910
Janet Zandy: Dangerous Working-class Women: Mother Jones, Lucy Parsons, and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn
Margaret Walsh: Visible Women in the Needle Trades: Revisiting the Clothing Industry in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries
S.J. Kleinberg: Women’s Employment in the Public and Private Spheres, 1880-1920
Mia Bay: “If Iola Were a Man”: Gender, Jim Crow and Public Protest in the Work of Ida B. Wells
Alison Easton: “Outdoor Relief”: Sarah Orne Jewett, Annie Adams Fields and the Visit in Gilded Age America
Stepping Out: Bodies, Spaces and the Cultural Representation of Visibility
Lindsey Traub: Negotiating Visibility: Louisa May Alcott’s Narrative Experiments
R.J. Ellis: “People Will Think You Have Struck an Attitude”: Fashionable Space in Emma Dunham Kelley-Hawkins’ Novels
Janet Floyd: “Magnificent Equipment”: Body, Sound and Space in the Representation of the Female Singer
Peter Rawlings: The Painful Production of Verena Tarrant: John Locke and The Bostonians
Karen L. Kilcup: “The True American Woman”: Narcissa Owen’s Embodied National Narrative
Shirley Foster: American Women Travelers and the Material Feminine
Becoming “Modern”
Timothy A. Hickman: Gendering Modernity: Frances E. Willard’s Politics of Technological Sentimentality
Susan K. Harris: Women, Anti-imperialism and America’s Christian Mission Abroad: The Impact of the Philippine-American War
Notes on Contributors
Select Bibliography