American Woman: Feminine Speech and the Reformation of National Identity Through Female Community in Louisa May Alcott’s 'An Old-Fashioned Girl'

TitleAmerican Woman: Feminine Speech and the Reformation of National Identity Through Female Community in Louisa May Alcott’s 'An Old-Fashioned Girl'
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsStover, Deanna
JournalWomen's Writing
Volume25
Issue1
Start Page80
Pagination80 - 94
Date Published01/2018
Abstract

After the Civil War, Alcott saw an opportunity for women to play an essential part in the creation of a revised American identity. This article argues that the “Old-Fashioned Girl” embodies what Alcott sees as a more American value system while inspiring cultural and social change. In contrast to Republican motherhood, in which women gain power through influencing their husbands and sons, Alcott emphasizes a rhizomatic female community where women gain power through their influence on and support of other women. Furthermore, the old-fashioned girl crosses age and class boundaries by building an identity and community that Alcott characterizes as distinctly American; through their speech, women (and girls) can help render not only the home but the nation “what it should be.” 

URLhttps://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09699082.2017.1323389
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