Women Writers and Naturalism

Donna M. Campbell

in The Oxford Handbook of American Literary Naturalism

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780195368932
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Women Writers and Naturalism

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  • Literary Studies (Fiction, Novelists, and Prose Writers)



This article examines the relationship between women writers and naturalism, or, more specifically, the ways in which late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century American women writers wrote naturalistic fiction. It focuses broadly on three questions. First, it analyzes the ways in which Kate Chopin, Edith Wharton, Ellen Glasgow, and Willa Cather—the four women writers of this generation most frequently identified as naturalists—were writing within or against the conventions of classic naturalism. Second, it explores the ways in which the inclusion of women writers and certain features of their work, such as the relationships of female characters to the land and the trope of the female body as spectacle, might serve to stretch definitional boundaries of naturalism itself. Finally, it concludes by addressing briefly the importance of discussing women writers as part of a naturalistic tradition.

Keywords: Kate Chopin; Edith Wharton; Ellen Glasgow; Willa Cather; naturalists; naturalism; American women writers; naturalistic fiction

Article.  8892 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (Fiction, Novelists, and Prose Writers)

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