The Catherian Cathedral

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The Catherian Cathedral: Gothic CathedraIconography in Willa Cather's Fiction traces the development of a Gothic cathedral iconography in the fiction of Willa Cather and posits that Cather finds in the Gothic cathedral image a metaphor for the writing process and the novel. It explores and analyzes Cather's incorporation of major elements of Gothic cathedral design in her work, in characterization, light imagery, and novel structure, and links Cather's traditional cathedral images with her images of mountains and mesas. Christine E. Kephart engages in conversation with other critics on Cather, the cathedral, and religious thought. She also shows the influence of both Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry Adams on Cather's development of the iconography, as well as Cather's associative linking of the landscape of the American Southwest with that of the south and south-central regions of France.

For some time, Cather scholarship has focused on Willa Cather's use of medieval images, including the image of the cathedral. The Catherian Cathedral builds on earlier research in its aim to further explore and apprehend fully the persistence of the cathedral image in Cather's work. Along with analyzing the influence of Emerson and Adams on Cather's process, this book traces her building of the cathedral in her fiction and follows her architectural eye as it surveys the cathedral form in the natural and human-made architecture of France and the American Southwest. The resulting work suggest that, to paraphrase Sarah Orne Jewett, the cathedral was indeed one of those image that "teased" Cather and got itself written down.

Christine E. Kephart received her Ph.D. in English at Drew University, where she worked with Merrill Maguire Skaggs, one of the preeminent scholars in Cather studies, to begin developing her own critical work in Cather research. She currently works in higher education, and she lives in New Jersey with her husband, who works in the market research field. She and her husband are also musicians; they play together whenever they can.

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