Title

Arranging Stories: The Implications of Narrative Decision in Short Story Collections by Southern Women Writers, 1894-1944

Graduation Year

2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Department

English

Degree Granting Department

Department of English

Major Professor

Cynthia Patterson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Gurleen Grewal, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kristin Allukian, Ph.D.

Committee Member

K. Stephen Prince, Ph.D.

Keywords

authorial control, feminist narratology, periodicals, archival studies

Abstract

Southern writer Ellen Glasgow once told an audience that “the longer one lives in this world of hazard and disaster, the more reckless one should become . . . in the matter of words.” Between the 1880s and the 1940s, opportunities for southern women writers like Glasgow increased dramatically, first bolstered by readership demands for southern stories in northern periodicals and followed by their acceptance into the southern literary canon during the 1920s-30s Southern Renaissance movement. And yet, it remained difficult for southern women writers to be reckless with words. Confined by magazine requirements and sociocultural expectations, writers often used regional settings to attract publishers and readers. Once a readership was established, they sought to publish a collection of stories separate from popular magazine contexts. This project examines the selection and arrangement of previously-published magazine stories into first short story collections by Kate Chopin, Ellen Glasgow, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, and Katherine Anne Porter. Publishing a collection enabled authors to revise their stories outside of magazines’ requirements and provided the agency to arrange individual stories into a collective narrative. In “Arranging Stories,” I argue that selecting and ordering magazine stories for these collections was not arbitrary nor dictated by editors. Instead, it allowed women writers to privilege stories, or to contextualize a particular story by its proximity to other tales, as a form of sociopolitical commentary. This project, supported by archival research at ten institutional repositories, invites a reconsideration of women writers’ authorial control throughout the publication process.

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