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Homes On-the-Road, Terrorized Cabins, and Prophetic Nightmare-scapes: Emma J. Ray's Unsettling Western Fantasies

Homes On-the-Road, Terrorized Cabins, and Prophetic Nightmare-scapes: Emma J. Ray's... Homes On- the- Road, Terrorized Cabins, and Prophetic Nightmare- scapes Emma J. Ray’s Unsettling Western Fantasies Shelly Jarenski Despite almost thirty years of scholarship on women’s experi- ence in the mythic West of the United States, scholarship that be- gan in many ways with Annette Kolodny’s Th e Land Before Her, the frontier myth continues to conjure gendered notions of pioneerism, nonconformity, and adventure. Even when the gendered aspects of this myth are challenged, the American West that most people imagine is still inherently white. In many ways the story of African American women’s experience as agents in one of the most palpable fantasies of American belonging has been obscured or erased. Th is erasure has given us an inaccurate sense of both the United States’ and African American history. As Eric Gardner’s recent work has powerfully documented, this erasure has also given us a truncated defi nition of African American literary history, one that is limited to the long- form stories of enslaved and ex- enslaved people in ru- ral southern and urban northeastern geographies. And, as Kolodny argues, it has caused the prevailing fantasy of the United States’ frontier to be one of “privatized erotic mastery” rather http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Western American Literature University of Nebraska Press

Homes On-the-Road, Terrorized Cabins, and Prophetic Nightmare-scapes: Emma J. Ray's Unsettling Western Fantasies

Western American Literature , Volume 54 (4) – Feb 5, 2020

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Publisher
University of Nebraska Press
Copyright
Copyright © Western Literature Association
ISSN
0043-3462

Abstract

Homes On- the- Road, Terrorized Cabins, and Prophetic Nightmare- scapes Emma J. Ray’s Unsettling Western Fantasies Shelly Jarenski Despite almost thirty years of scholarship on women’s experi- ence in the mythic West of the United States, scholarship that be- gan in many ways with Annette Kolodny’s Th e Land Before Her, the frontier myth continues to conjure gendered notions of pioneerism, nonconformity, and adventure. Even when the gendered aspects of this myth are challenged, the American West that most people imagine is still inherently white. In many ways the story of African American women’s experience as agents in one of the most palpable fantasies of American belonging has been obscured or erased. Th is erasure has given us an inaccurate sense of both the United States’ and African American history. As Eric Gardner’s recent work has powerfully documented, this erasure has also given us a truncated defi nition of African American literary history, one that is limited to the long- form stories of enslaved and ex- enslaved people in ru- ral southern and urban northeastern geographies. And, as Kolodny argues, it has caused the prevailing fantasy of the United States’ frontier to be one of “privatized erotic mastery” rather

Journal

Western American LiteratureUniversity of Nebraska Press

Published: Feb 5, 2020

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