Chapter

Ghostly Returns: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Gertrude Atherton, and Josephine Daskam Bacon

Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock

in Scare Tactics

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print September 2008 | ISBN: 9780823229857
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823241040 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5422/fordham/9780823229857.003.0007
Ghostly Returns: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Gertrude Atherton, and Josephine Daskam Bacon

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In attending to these ghost stories by nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century American women, we are eavesdropping on a conversation of sorts — an exchange among women in dialogue with the larger tradition of American and British supernaturalism more generally. These women were not just writing for each other; by virtue of rescripting the Gothic to express their own anxieties and desires, they also participated in a conversation of sorts with the masculine tradition of the supernatural tale, and negotiated with cultural expectations concerning the place of women in American culture and the relation of women to writing and professional authorship. In this final chapter the author examines the ways in which American women turned the Gothic genre back on itself and used conventions of the supernatural implicitly — and in some cases explicitly — to engage with and, in some instances, to rewrite the male Gothic tradition in order to highlight its inadequacy for representing female anxieties.

Keywords: American culture; women; Gothic tradition; anxieties; supernatural; writing; desires

Chapter.  9564 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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