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The American Short Story Cycle$
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Jennifer J. Smith

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474423939

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474423939.001.0001

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Locating the Short Story Cycle

Locating the Short Story Cycle

(p.12) Chapter 1 Locating the Short Story Cycle
The American Short Story Cycle

Jennifer J. Smith

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter corrects the long-held assumption that the form began with modernist blockbusters and instead suggests that modernist writers revised a vibrant regionalist tradition to their own uses. It trace the development of the cycle from a regionalist tradition often marked by an attention to the experiences of women and those living on the fringes of America. Nineteenth-century village sketch narratives, such as Caroline Kirkland’s A New Home, Who'll Follow? or, Glimpses of Western Life (1839), served to incorporate towns, distanced from cultural centers, into the national imaginary. These cycles depend upon the construction of a restricted geographic terrain to contain and ground the narratives; in other words, they stake out “limited locality” to encompass the stories. Sarah Orne Jewett’s The Country of the Pointed Firs (1896) and Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio (1919) continue to question the extent to which geographic proximity produces communal affiliation, which is often imagined as an antidote to the poisons of industrialization.

Keywords:   Modernism, Regionalism, Caroline Kirkland, Sherwood Anderson, Sarah Orne Jewett, Industrialization, Community, Place, Gemeinschaft

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