Breaking Boundaries: New Perspectives on Women's Regional by Sherrie A. Inness

By Sherrie A. Inness

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For , Meisenheimer's focus on three autobiographical essays reveals the relationship between region and body to be one of kinship rather than transcendence, as rootedness is a function of her indwelling spirit. The relationship of self to region is further explored in a number of essays in the collection that focus on western regionalism from a revisionary perspective, bringing in controversial issues such as race and ecology. Noreen Groover Lape, Becky Jo Gesteland McShane, and Krista Comer complicate previous critical studies of the West as they delve into issues of transethnicity, class, and gender.

Pryse argues that Stowe was attempting to redirect American fiction by utilizing the cultural values associated with women's sphere, deliberately forming a narrative tradition that would allow women writers to develop their authority as storytellers. " But there imitation of Irving ends, Pryse shows, as Stowe reverses Irving's condemnation of women to identify women's values as central to American culture. Here, women's voices infiltrate the regionalist genre. Pryse's investigation of the literary roots of regionalism firmly establishes Stowe's contribution in shaping a fiction that carried women's voices and values to a large readership.

Writing the Midwest: Meridel Le Sueur and the Making of a Radical Regional Tradition" breaks Le Sueur out of the restricting view of her as primarily a Communist and feminist. Le Sueur was at the forefront of an effort to create a strong, localized basis among midwestern writers for the united front against fascism, yet Mickenberg's discussion of this writer's neglected texts reveals her also to be a regionalist with a deep investment in her community. Mickenberg challenges the oversimplified and generalizing definitions of regionalism applied to writing of the interwar years as she explores Le Sueur's work in the multiple contexts of political, regional, and personal.

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