Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Optimist Reformer

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“This anthology beautifully reflects the intellectual range and depth of Gilman's work. It provides a valuable critique of many of her perspectives while respecting her originality and genius—as a fiction writer, poet, and theorist for the turn-of-the-century women's movement.”—Mary A. Hill, author of The Making of a Radical Feminist

“An essential collection of essays covering Gilman's range of genres, written by new and established scholars, this volume offers timely reassessments of well-known titles and topics and incisive introductions to such lesser-known materials as the one-act play Three Women, His Religion and Hers, and newly published poetry.”—Carol F. Kessler, professor of English, American studies, and women's studies, Penn State University, Delaware County Campus

“These essays exemplify all the virtues of interdisciplinarity in consideration of that most multidisciplined of writers, Charlotte Perkins Gilman. The contributors simultaneously clarify and complicate our understanding of some of the more vexed areas of Gilman's work by engaging saliently with her theories of ethnicity, class, prostitution, and the dynamics of gender; posing difficult questions to contemporary feminist scholars; and providing sensitive and insightful guidance to a well-chosen and wide range of texts.”—Janet Beer, author of Kate Chopin, Edith Wharton
and Charlotte Perkins Gilman: Studies in Short Fiction

“…it is an invaluable addition to Gilman scholarship in its interdisciplinarity, its contributors' willingness to step beyond the categories of women's history, biography, or literary study. What a fitting tribute for a woman who herself refused to be identified with a single social cause. A must for every Gilman scholar, I recommend it also to those interested in American socialist thought, Progressivism, and turn-of-the-century gender, race and ethnic relations.”—Lia Vella, Utopian Studies: Journal of The Society for Utopian Studies

Charlotte Perkins Gilman: Optimist Reformer looks at Gilman’s legacy for women at the end of the twentieth century; in doing so its contributors reassess both her reformist ideas and our own views on fin de siècle feminism. Gilman scholarship has indeed moved on from the much needed recovery of her work to more critical treatments that allow us to acknowledge elements now regarded as unacceptable. As a result, the essayists here reappraise Gilman and her writings in ways that directly address hithertofore overlooked points, such as her racism, her almost willful disregard of issues of class, and her broadly essentialist view of women. Thus Gilman and her works are both reassessed in light of current feminist thought and presented in the context of her own time.

Table of contents: 

Gilman and Feminism

Charlotte Perkins Gilman and the Rights of Women: Her Legacy for the 1990's - Ann J. Lane

The Intellectualism of Charlotte Perkins Gilman: Evolutionary Perspectives on Race, Ethnicity, and Class - Lisa Ganobcsik-Williams

Women, Work, and the Home

“What a Comfort a Woman Doctor Is!”: Medical Women in the Life and Writing of Charlotte Perkins Gilman - Frederick Wegener

Charlotte Perkins Gilman's Three Women: Work, Marriage, and the Old(er) Woman - Katharine Cockin

Home Is Where the Heart Is—Or Is It? Three Women and Charlotte Perkins Gilman's Theory of the Home - Marie T. Farr

Kitchenless Houses and Homes: Charlotte Perkins Gilman and the Reform of Architectural Space - Yvonne Gaudelius

Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Educational Reform - Deborah M. de Simone

Motherhood and Reproduction

Consumption, Production, and Reproduction in the Work of Charlotte Perkins Gilman - Naomi B. Zauderer

Reconfiguring Vice: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Prostitution, and Frontier Sexual Contracts - Judith A. Allen

“Fecundate! Discriminate!”Charlotte Perkins Gilman and the Theologizing of Maternity - Sandra M. Gilbert & Susan Gubar

Public and Private Faces

Hair Today, Shorn Tomorrow? Hair Symbolism, Gender, and the Agency of Self - Karen Stevenson

“Written to Drive Nails With”: Recalling the Early Poetry of Charlotte Perkins Gilman - Catherine Golden

“But O My Heart”: The Private Poetry of Charlotte Perkins Gilman - Denise D. Knight