Review by Choice Review
Patterson (McKendree College) both challenges and reconfigures the trope of the "New Woman," a term coined in 1894. The label has been used primarily to characterize progressive and well-educated white women who rejected both the cult of domesticity and patriarchal dominion, and Patterson argues that the original definition is highly inadequate. Examining a number of literary figures, including African American authors Pauline Hopkins and Margaret Murray Washington and Chinese European writer Sui Sin Far, the author expands the concept of the New Woman. Other recent studies have also addressed this subject--most notably The New Woman in Fiction and in Fact: Fin de Siecle Feminisms, ed. by Angelique Richardson and Chris Willis (2001), which posits similar arguments about the historically narrow depiction of the New Woman--but those works were not exhaustive. Accordingly, there is plenty of room for additional discussion and debate over the iconic figure of the New Woman and for an expanded definition that has social, economic, ethnic, and cultural implications. Patterson's work is insightful, penetrating, and highly readable. It also features 19 historic illustrations, helpful notes, an exhaustive bibliography, and a comprehensive index. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. D. D. Knight SUNY College at Cortland
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