NOTES AND OBSERVATIONS ON SHOWALTER'S 'A JURY OF HER PEERS' CH. 8 and 9
Jury of Her Peers is a book that traces the development of women’s literature in the United States. These notes are taken from the book as part of the Diverse Women Writers course at Salt Lake Community College. The title of the book is taken from a short story that involves a wife killing her husband.
Ch. 8 The Coming Woman
“Strength and beauty must go together.”
This is the Negro’s hour and women would have to wait (? Stealing the spotlight? We can only handle one thing in our minds; it’s the news cycle.)
Free love in the 1870s!
Women’s rights as a subject replaced anti-slavery.
Female Declaration of Independence
(The trappings are not the thing itself.)
(This was after the Civil War. The death of men gave rise to free love and the “Boston Marriage,” wherein two women cohabitated and possibly more.)
Credibility of a widow without the burdens of a wife
Success means absolute surrender in whatever direction. (True for men and women)
Both the North and South imitated George Eliot.
Charlotte Bronte’s Villette: “useless rebellings against fate, rests at last in the calm of despair”
Kate Sherwood Bonner – died of breast cancer
One of the first characters to worry about her weight appears in Like Unto Like; Betty wore black because it slimmed, and she contrasted with Blythe.
Ch. 9 American Sybils
Writers as rivals
Emma Lazarus – wrote about anti-Semitism and wrote the pedestal saying on the Statue of Liberty
Declining villages in the 1880s
“Heroic experiences on an epic scale” (We need to define that. Would Harriet Tubman’s or Clara Barton’s experiences count?)
Regionality becomes art.
Sarah Orne Jewett – self-described as small and diminutive; said Harriet Beecher Stowe could not give up the interruptions of domestic life and ended up with “a divine touch here and there in an incomplete work.”
(Art is defined more by the viewer, the consumer, than the artist. Is Romeo and Juliet a comedy that has been misunderstood?)
Mary Wilkins Freeman – Changed the last name on marriage
Women vs. women
(There’s no discussion of quality – should we assume that the mention equals well-written? Who was the better writer – Freeman or Jewett?)
Mary Noailles Murfree – pen name was Charles Egbert Craddock; wrote the most extreme dialect
Helen Hunt Jackson – Traveled America; knew Emily Dickinson; Ramona
Constance Fenimore Woolson – her characters tend to be stranded somehow
Was told to stop writing about the Civil War
Indicted national suppression of the Civil War and its consequences
Henry James and Nathaniel Hawthorne did not like women writers