Elizabeth Spencer's Complicated Cartographies: Reimagining Home, the South, and Southern Literary…

Hardcover | July 15, 2009

byCatherine Seltzer

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Elizabeth Spencer has published critically acclaimed fiction for over forty years. Yet in many respects, Spencer’s work has existed largely on the margins of the southern canon, whose rigid boundaries cannot easily accommodate her shifting vision of—and relationship to—the South. This book looks at the ways in which Spencer’s fiction has evolved in its challenges to these boundaries, questioning conventional notions of home, remapping long-established landscapes of southern identity, and challenging southern literary orthodoxies.

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Elizabeth Spencer has published critically acclaimed fiction for over forty years. Yet in many respects, Spencer’s work has existed largely on the margins of the southern canon, whose rigid boundaries cannot easily accommodate her shifting vision of—and relationship to—the South. This book looks at the ways in which Spencer’s fiction h...

Catherine Seltzer is Assistant Professor of English at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, specializing in American Literature and Women's Studies.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:224 pages, 8.26 × 5.8 × 0.66 inPublished:July 15, 2009Publisher:Palgrave MacmillanLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0230617646

ISBN - 13:9780230617643

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Backward Glances and Forward Thinking: Reconsidering Elizabeth Spencer * "A Sure Terrain": Spencer's Mississippi Novels * Exploding the Can(n)on: The South as "Another County" * Inhabiting the Unhomely Moment in Jack of Diamonds and Other Stories * "Radical" Re-Envisionings of Home: The Night Travellers

Editorial Reviews

"Elizabeth Spencer's Complicated Cartographies is a fine work of criticism and scholarship, masterly in its clarity, depth of insight informed by command of southern literary history and current feminist and postcolonial theory. The book is a model for the illuminating connections it makes between fiction and biography and is equally impressive in its careful tracing of Spencer's development as a southern writer in terms of her evolving conceptions of "home" and "identity" as reflected in her changing relation to the principles of the Fugitive-Agrarian writers in which her first "Mississippi" novels are grounded.”—Elsa Nettles, author of Language and Gender in American Fiction: Howells, James, Wharton, and Cather."Catherine Seltzer’s Elizabeth Spencer’s Complicated Cartographies is a beautifully written, perceptive account of one of America’s greatest living writers.  Although born in Mississippi, Spencer refused to limit the localities of her many novels, stories and plays to that region, perhaps being most frequently recognized as the author of the located-in-Italy novella, The Light in the Piazza.  As Seltzer notes in her conclusion and elsewhere, Spencer’s fiction “suggests new cartographies of the southern home, those literal—in its expansion of the borders of southern experience; spiritual—in its exploration of her characters’ complex responses to a myriad of homes; and artistic—in its growing challenge to the expectations established by her literary mentors.”  As Seltzer goes on to say, more than any other Southern writer Spencer has a “gift for merging familiar and foreign terrain,” thereby challenging conventional southern ideological topographies, implying that “that there is much more of southern identity to be mapped.”  Seltzer’s insightful criticism makes her audience want to reread all of Spencer’s masterful oeuvre."--Kimball King, Professor Emeritus, The University of North Carolina and one-time Chair of the Conference of Editors of Learned Journals"Elizabeth Spencer, known most widely for her 1960 novella Light in the Piazza ,published first in the New Yorker, subsequently serving as the basis for a film ,and then decades later an award-winning broadway musical, has proved an elusive literary figure, difficult to categorize and contain. In this study, Catherine Seltzer skillfully charts Spencer's fifty-year career by setting it along side the changing currents of American culture."--Hubert H. McAlexander, Meigs Professor, University of Georgia"Seltzer's discussion is enriched by her interviews with Spencer and her research in Spencer manuscript archives.  Recommended."--CHOICE