Cather Studies Vol. 12

Article number: CATHER STUDIES 12
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The essays in Cather Studies, Volume 12 are informed by new modes of contextualization, including the increasingly popular view of Cather as a pivotal or transitional figure working between and across very different cultural periods and by the recent publication of Cather’s correspondence.

University of Nebraska Press: January 2020
Paperback: 246 pages

Over the five decades of her writing career Willa Cather responded to, and entered into dialogue with, shifts in the terrain of American life. These cultural encounters informed her work as much as the historical past in which much of her writing is based. Cather was a multifaceted cultural critic, immersing herself in the arts, broadly defined: theater and opera, art, narrative, craft production. Willa Cather and the Arts shows that Cather repeatedly engaged with multiple forms of art, and that even when writing about the past she was often addressing contemporary questions.

The collection begins by exploring the ways Cather encountered and represented high and low cultures, including Cather’s use of “racialized vernacular” in Sapphira and the Slave Girl. The next set of essays demonstrates how historical research, often focusing on local features in Cather’s fiction, contributes to our understanding of American culture, from musicological sources to the cultural development of Pittsburgh. The final trio of essays highlights current Cather scholarship, including a food studies approach to O Pioneers! and an examination of Cather’s use of ancient philosophy in The Professor’s House. Together the essays reassess Cather’s lifelong encounter with, and interpretation and reimagining of, the arts.

Guy J. Reynolds is a professor of English at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and the director of the Cather Project. He is the author of Apostles of Modernity: American Writers in the Age of Development (University of Nebraska Press, 2008) and Willa Cather in Context: Progress, Race, Empire, as well as a former general editor of the Willa Cather Scholarly Edition series. Sensing Willa Cather: The Writer and the Body in Transition (Edinburgh University Press: 2021) is his most recent book.

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