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The Oxford History of the Novel in EnglishVolume 6: The American Novel 1879-1940$
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Priscilla Wald and Michael A. Elliott

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780195385342

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780195385342.001.0001

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Geographic Fictions and the American Novel

Geographic Fictions and the American Novel

(p.135) 9 Geographic Fictions and the American Novel
The Oxford History of the Novel in English

Stephanie Foote

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the relationship between geography and the American novel between the Civil War and the beginning of World War II. More specifically, it considers how novels define and represent the idea of place. It begins by discussing the conception of geographic place as well as the literary map as a metaphor in literary studies, described by literary critic Franco Moretti as a mode of organizing information of special interest to some kinds of fiction. It then considers how literary maps work like narratives that imagine place in a certain way, and how narratives that have a special relationship to “place” or “geography” can be distinguished from those that do not. The chapter analyzes the notion of geographical place by looking at three kinds of novels: the genre of regional fiction in the late nineteenth century; modernist novels that explore the provincialism of community in U.S. towns and villages in the early twentieth century; and the popular genre of the Western.

Keywords:   geography, novel, geographical place, Franco Moretti, fiction, literary maps, narratives, regional fiction, provincialism, Western

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