Cover image for Constructing the Little house : gender, culture, and Laura Ingalls Wilder
Title:
Constructing the Little house : gender, culture, and Laura Ingalls Wilder
Author:
Romines, Ann, 1942-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Amherst : University of Massachusetts Press, [1997]

©1997
Physical Description:
xi, 287 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781558491212

9781558491229
Format :
Book

Available:*

Library
Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Status
Central Library PS3545.I342 Z83 1997 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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Summary

Summary

Despite their enduring popularity, the "Little House" books, the first of which appeared in 1932, have not been the subject of much sustained critical analysis. The author incorporates her passion for the "Little House" books, which was sparked in childhood, with her grown-up scholarly interest in US women's writing and gendered culture to look closely at the books' voices, characters, and context, and the secrets of their deep appeal. Paper edition (unseen), $16.95. Annotation copyrighted by Book News, Inc., Portland, OR


Summary

With more than thirty-five million copies in print, the Little House series, written in the 1930s and 1940s by Laura Ingalls Wilder and her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, has been a spectacular commercial success. What is it about this eight-volume serial novel for children that accounts for its enduring power? And what does the popularity of these books tell us about the currents of American culture?

Ann Romines interweaves personal observation with scholarly analysis to address these questions. Writing from a feminist perspective and drawing on resources of gender studies, cultural studies, and new historicist reading, she examines both the content of the novels and the process of their creation. She explores the relationship between mother and daughter working as collaborative authors and calls into question our assumptions about plot, juvenile fiction, and constructions of gender on the nineteenth-century frontier and in the Depression years when the Little House books were written.

This is a book that will appeal both to scholars and to general readers who might welcome an engaging and accessible companion volume to the Little House novels.


Author Notes

Ann Romines is professor of English and director of the department's graduate studies program at George Washington University.


Reviews 2

Choice Review

As almost every girl in the US knows, and many boys, too, Wilder wrote the Little House novels recording life on the prairie, a popular collection that birthed a television series replayed from Australia to Nova Scotia. Romines reminds readers that every Wilder novel, though recording the efforts of women for greater freedoms and reinvented lives, ends with a man center stage: either the father singing to his family, or, in the last, Laura's new husband holding his bride after showing her a special pantry he designed for her future. This study is gentle and good-humored but never unfaithful to its strong, sophisticated foundations in feminist ideas. A convincing scholar and critic of American culture and women writers, Romines never forgets the wonder of reading or the mystery of her own meeting with Wilder's work. This reviewer cannot imagine anyone resisting Ann Romines's polished style, wit, and honest emotion. From the Ozarks herself, Romines is the author of The Home Plot (CH, Oct'92), a much-praised study of "domestic ritual" in works by Stowe, Cather, and other women writers. She demonstrates how Wilder's daughter rewrote her mother's journals. Romines's book joins the best guides to the houses that Laura lived in, including William Anderson's Laura Ingalls Wilder (1992) and Stephen Hines' I Remember Laura (1994). An imaginative selection for undergraduate and public library collections; appropriate for upper-level students interested in feminism, US Literature, and popular culture, and perfect as a model for graduate students. R. H. Solomon; formerly, University of Alberta


Choice Review

As almost every girl in the US knows, and many boys, too, Wilder wrote the Little House novels recording life on the prairie, a popular collection that birthed a television series replayed from Australia to Nova Scotia. Romines reminds readers that every Wilder novel, though recording the efforts of women for greater freedoms and reinvented lives, ends with a man center stage: either the father singing to his family, or, in the last, Laura's new husband holding his bride after showing her a special pantry he designed for her future. This study is gentle and good-humored but never unfaithful to its strong, sophisticated foundations in feminist ideas. A convincing scholar and critic of American culture and women writers, Romines never forgets the wonder of reading or the mystery of her own meeting with Wilder's work. This reviewer cannot imagine anyone resisting Ann Romines's polished style, wit, and honest emotion. From the Ozarks herself, Romines is the author of The Home Plot (CH, Oct'92), a much-praised study of "domestic ritual" in works by Stowe, Cather, and other women writers. She demonstrates how Wilder's daughter rewrote her mother's journals. Romines's book joins the best guides to the houses that Laura lived in, including William Anderson's Laura Ingalls Wilder (1992) and Stephen Hines' I Remember Laura (1994). An imaginative selection for undergraduate and public library collections; appropriate for upper-level students interested in feminism, US Literature, and popular culture, and perfect as a model for graduate students. R. H. Solomon; formerly, University of Alberta


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