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Author Carden, Mary Paniccia

Title Sons and daughters of self-made men : improvising gender, place, nation in American literature / Mary Paniccia Carden

Publ Info Lewisburg : Bucknell University Press, [2010]
 RWU Main Library  PS169.N35 C37 2010    AVAILABLE
1 copy being processed for Wheaton Stacks.
Descript 255 pages ; 24 cm
text rdacontent
unmediated rdamedia
volume rdacarrier
Note Includes bibliographical references (p. 233-247) and index
Contents Preface : pioneers and patriots -- Introduction : self-making and self-improvisation -- Fatherlands : paternal erotics of place in Faulkner, Welty, and Morrison -- No-places : un-made children in Petry, Ellison, and Boyle -- Motherlands : alternative places in Cather, Smiley, and Faulkner -- Otherlands : self-improvisation in Cisneros, Wideman, and Morrison -- Coda : improvisation nation
Note "At a moment in which America seems simultaneously more closed and more open to change than ever before, Sons and Daughters of Self-Made Men: Improvising Gender, Place, Nation in American Literature re-examines a defining national discourse. Exploring the dilemmas of U.S. subjects positioned as inheritors--and thus as children--of the archetypal self-made Founder/Father, the author offers a critical re-evaluation of the trope of self-making as it is expressed in modern and contemporary American literature. She views "selfmaking" as a mode of simultaneous constriction and possibility, where the compulsion to perform to the national script leads to critical and creative forms of improvisation. In texts by Toni Morrison, William Faulkner, Ralph Ellison, Sandra Cisneros, John Edgar Wideman, and others, she finds self-making re-articulated with improvisational differences that suggest possibilities for an improvisational nation. This study tracks U.S. authors' representations of gendered American identities both formed in conformity and forced into mutation by a self-made ideology based in patriarchal authority. Dr. Carden suggests that although the notion of self-making shifts in response to historical contingencies, it also maintains a relatively stable association with patriarchy. The historical vision of self-made fathers creating the U.S. in their image genders the nation male, creating America as a fatherland in a process that echoes heterosexual arrangements based in the dominance of (white) men, materializing raced and gendered bodies and the spaces those bodies occupy in national locales. Sons and Daughters of Self-Made Men approaches the gendered national narrative spatially. Each chapter considers the question of what kinds of relationships to American spaces and places, what gendered spatial practices, emerge from the geographies organized by the mythos of male self-making and from alternative geographies created by alternative forms of performance. The author argues that while the trope of the self-made father puts aside the desires of effaced mothers and ignores the yearnings of inadequate sons and invisible daughters, it is precisely these energies that animate and invigorate much of American literature. The suppressed energies of the secondary players in the national script frequently open into alternative forms and expressions of identity that she describes as self-improvisational. The ideology of self-making is underwritten by scenarios that provide for their own alternatives. American literature exploits them in creative, subversive, and promising ways. This book focuses on a tradition of American fiction writing that makes improvisation visible in novels that invoke the ideology of the self-made father as origin while simultaneously contesting the foundational status and defining authority of his narrative."--Dust jacket
LC subject American literature -- History and criticism
National characteristics, American, in literature
Group identity in literature
Self-determination, National, in literature
Success in literature
Ideology in literature
Patriarchy in literature
ISBN 9780838757543 (alk. paper)
0838757545 (alk. paper)