AMERICAN WOMEN WRITERS AND THE WORK OF HISTORY, 1790-1860

By revealing women's use of history in the making of it, Baym rebuts conventional wisdom about women's absence from national life in antebellum America. Baym (English/Univ. of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana; Feminism and American Literary History, not reviewed) demonstrates that women were active outside the home and in an important kind of antebellum politics. Through extensive archival research of over 350 works (among them pieces of historical fiction, lyric and dramatic poetry, family memoirs, travel narratives, and advice books) written by 150 women of varying degrees of renown, she shows how women (of the upper and middle classes) used the proliferating print media to become ``influential in forming public opinion.'' Indeed, Baym predicts that today's predominant conception of 19th- century American women as non-participants in the ideological tasks of nation-building will, in time, prove wholly inaccurate: ``We may discover in time that representations of female selves as privatized and domesticated beings are actually minority strands in nineteenth-century American women's literature.'' Baym asserts that, from the early days of the republic, women were urged to read history, which was installed at the center of the earliest female curricula. As a result, antebellum women, just like men, deployed ``history'' for argumentative purposes, using it to advance a range of ideas about how things in America ought to be. They reformulated concepts of motherhood and womanhood to include an educational role that accommodated various forms of historical writing by women. Baym's fluid conception of what is historical enables her to explore the development of women's and America's cultural identity with great nuance. Her analysis of material both known and new takes account of the complexity of a national identity forged by both authorities and ordinary people. An elegant account that reveals new dimensions in women's relationship to American history and historiography.

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 1995

ISBN: 0-8135-2142-4

Page Count: 325

Publisher: Rutgers Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1994

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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DEAR MR. HENSHAW

Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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