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Title: Contexts for reading Gertrude Stein's 'The Making of Americans'
Author: Daniel, Lucy Jane
ISNI:       0000 0000 8450 9998
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2002
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Abstract:
This thesis provides a contextualizing approach to Gertrude Stein's The Making of Americans (1903-1911), using her notebooks, correspondence and college compositions dating from the 1890s, as well as the more well-known Fernhurst, QED, and 'Melanctha'; the study ends in 1911. Each chapter discusses representative texts with which Stein was familiar, and which had a discernible effect on the themes and style of the novel. In view of a critical tradition which has often obscured her nineteenth-century contexts, this reading provides a clearer definition of the social and intellectual environment which shaped her literary experiment. In chapter 1 I consider the influence of Charlotte Perkins Gilman's Women and Economics (1898). Stein's college themes and the speech, The Value of College Education for Women (1898), reveal her feelings about the possibility of female creativity. Stein's essay, Degeneration in American Women (1901), which was only recently discovered, is also informed by contemporary gender politics. Stein's inclusion of sections of her early novella, Fernhurst, into the middle of The Making of Americans may be seen as the pivotal episode of the novel, demonstrating Stein's disillusion with the realistic idiom. It is influenced by her reading of Alfred Hodder's philosophical work. The Adversaries of the Sceptic (1901), and his novel. The New Americans (1901). These are discussed in chapter 2. In chapter 3 I discuss the characterological intent of Stein's novel in relation to Otto Weininger's Sex and Character (1903). Stein's work presents direct stylistic similarities to and verbal echoes of Weininger, not only in her use of his types. Weiningers anti- Semitism and anti-feminism influence Stein's images of American as masculine and robust, and Jewish as effeminate and degenerate. Stein eventually satirizes the sexologist's method. Finally, in chapter 4 I show how the inadequately addressed question of Stein's Jewishness may be linked to her reception of contemporary immigration stories. These include Abraham Cahan's The Rise of David Levinsky (1917) and Mary Antin's The Promised Land (1912). Steins college essay, 'The Modern Jew Who Has Given up the Faith of his Fathers Can Reasonably and Consistently Believe in Isolation (1896), which represents Stein's clearest expression of her view of race, and a college theme which is her earliest attempt at an immigration story, also throw light on representations of Jewish and American identity in The Making of Americans.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.271514  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Literature
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