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Crossing the water: Willa Cather and the transatlantic imaginary

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With the advent of transnationalist literary studies and its emphasis on questioning naturalized versions of nationalism, the idea of Cather as the celebrant and elegist of American values is ready for revision. Indeed, recent scholarship which has disinterred the political aspects of Cather's writing informs such new readings as it reveals a writer cogitating and critically engaging with the realities of social, political and cultural change. This article will examine some of the ways which Willa Cather compulsively appropriated and reinvented aspects of European culture to advance her own aesthetic designs. One purpose of this article is to shed light on established versions of American cultural nationalism. Another is to suggest, through close textual examples from Cather's work, that the author's conceptions and depictions of national identity emerged through engagement with a transatlantic imaginary.

Keywords: Willa Cather; multiculturalism; national identity; old world and new world; transatlantic imaginary; transnationalism

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Leicester.

Publication date: July 1, 2009

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  • The European Journal of American Culture (EJAC) is an academic, refereed journal for scholars, academics and students from many disciplines with a common involvement in the interdisciplinary study of America and American culture, drawing on a variety of approaches and encompassing the whole evolution of the country.
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