Driving Women: Fiction and Automobile Culture in by Deborah Clarke

By Deborah Clarke

Over the years, vehicles have helped to outline the reviews and self-perceptions of ladies in complicated and infrequently unforeseen methods. whilst ladies take the wheel, kin constitution and public area are reconfigured and re-gendered, making a context for a literary culture within which the auto has served instead for, an break out from, and an extension of the house, in addition to a surrogate mom, a monetary guard, and a way of self-expression.

Driving girls examines the intersection of yank fiction -- basically yet no longer solely via girls -- and car tradition. Deborah Clarke argues that matters serious to twentieth-century American society -- expertise, mobility, domesticity, and supplier -- are again and again articulated via women's relationships with vehicles. girls writers took unusually extreme curiosity in motor vehicle tradition and its import for contemporary existence, because the vehicle, replete with fabric and symbolic that means, recast literal and literary girl energy within the automobile age.

Clarke attracts on a variety of literary works, either canonical and renowned, to record women's fascination with vehicles from many views: old, mental, financial, ethnic. Authors mentioned comprise Wharton, Stein, Faulkner, O'Connor, Morrison, Erdrich, Mason, Kingsolver, Lopez, Kadohata, Smiley, Senna, Viramontes, Allison, and Silko. via investigating how autos can functionality as girl house, mirror girl identification, and reshape woman enterprise, this enticing learn opens up new angles from which to strategy fiction through and approximately girls and lines new instructions within the intersection of literature, expertise, and gender.

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Extra info for Driving Women: Fiction and Automobile Culture in Twentieth-Century America

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Many early accounts of women drivers make it clear that ladies often specifically sought out the excitement associated with motoring, a type of excitement formerly reserved for men because only they were thought capable of controlling it” (“Women Drivers” 60). This concern may also have its roots in debates surrounding cycling. As Ellen Garvey notes, those opposed to women on bicycles claimed that the bike’s saddle and the vibration of riding “teaches masturbation in women and girls” (qtd. in Garvey 74).

And this knowledge, Stokes and Ramsey assert, clearly lies within women’s capability. 28 Driving Women But mechanical expertise was not the only source of anxiety in the debates about female drivers. As the advertisements remind us, much of the concern regarding women in cars focused on sexuality: fears that automotive power might convey sexual power, fears that cars offered an easy shelter to copulating couples, fears of breakdowns in lonely places, and fears that young girls could be seduced into getting into strangers’ cars.

Rita Felski suggests that in the modernist era the “emergence of a culture of consumption helped to shape new forms of subjectivity for women, whose intimate needs, desires, and perceptions of self were mediated by public representations of commodities and the gratifications that they promised” (62). Certainly, Undine, identified by Preston as “the first truly modernist female protagonist” (141), defines herself through commodities. Her desires are less sexual than material. As Felski notes, the “discourse of consumerism is to a large extent the discourse of female desire” (64–65).

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