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Authors: Martin, Kerstin-Verena
Title: (De)colonization through topophilia: Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’s life and work in Florida
Online publication date: 25-Apr-2007
Year of first publication: 2007
Language: english
Abstract: (De)colonization Through Topophilia: Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’s Life and Work in Florida attempts to reveal the author’s intimate connection to and mental growth through her place, namely the Cross Creek environs, and its subsequent effect on her writing. In 1928, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and her first husband Charles Rawlings came to Cross Creek, Florida. They bought the shabby farmhouse on Cross Creek Road, trying to be both, writers and farmers. However, while Charles Rawlings was unable to write in the backwoods of the Florida Interior, Rawlings found her literary voice and entered a symbiotic, reciprocal relationship with the natural world of the Cracker frontier. Her biographical preconditions – a childhood spent in the rural area of Rock Creek, outside of Washington D. C. - and a father who had instilled in her a sense of place or topophilia, enabled her to overcome severe marriage tensions and the hostile climate women writers faced during the Depression era. Nature as a helping ally and as an “undomesticated”(1) space/place is a recurrent motif throughout most of Rawlings’s Florida literature. At a time when writing the American landscape/documentary and the extraction of the self from texts was the prevalent literary genre, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings inscribed herself into her texts. However, she knew that the American public was not yet ready for a ‘feminist revolt’, but was receptive of the longtime ‘inaudible’ voices from America’s regions, especially with regard to urban poverty and a homeward yearning during the Depression years. Fusing with the dynamic eco-consciousness of her Cracker friends and neighbors, Rawlings wrote in the literary category of regionalism enabling her to pursue three of her major aims: an individuated self, a self that assimilated with the ‘master narratives’ of her time and the recognition of the Florida Cracker and Scrub region. The first part of this dissertation briefly introduces the largely unknown and underestimated writer Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, providing background information on her younger years, the relationship toward her family and other influential persons in her life. Furthermore, it takes a closer look at the literary category of regionalism and Rawlings’s use of ‘place’ in her writings. The second part is concerned with the ‘region’ itself, the state of Florida. It focuses on the natural peculiarities of the state’s Interior, the scrub and hammock land around her Cracker hamlet as well as the unique culture of the Florida Cracker. Part IV is concerned with the analysis of her four Florida books. The author is still widely related to the ever-popular novel The Yearling (1938). South Moon Under (1933) and Golden Apples (1935), her first two novels, have not been frequently republished and have subsequently fallen into oblivion. Cross Creek (1942), Rawlings’s last Florida book, however, has recently gained renewed popularity through its use in classes on nature writers and the non-fiction essay but it requires and is here re-evaluated as the author’s (relational) autobiography. The analysis through place is brought to completion in this work and seems to intentionally close the circle of Rawlings’s Florida writings. It exemplifies once more that detachment from place is impossible for Rawlings and that the intermingling of life and place in literature, is essential for the (re)creation of her identity. Cross Creek is therefore not only one of Rawlings’s greatest achievements; it is more importantly the key to understanding the author’s self and her fiction. Through the ‘natural’ interrelationship of place and self and by looking “mutually outward and inward,”(2) Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings finds her literary voice, a home and ‘a room of her own’ in which to write and come to consciousness. Her Florida literature is not only product but also medium and process in her assessment of her identity and self. _____________ (1) Alaimo, Stacy. Undomesticated Ground: Recasting Nature as Feminist Space (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 2000) 23. (2) Libby, Brooke. “Nature Writing as Refuge: Autobiography in the Natural World” Reading Under the Sign of Nature. New Essays in Ecocriticism. Ed. John Tallmadge and Henry Harrington. (Salt Lake City: The U of Utah P, 2000) 200.
DDC: 810 Englische Literatur Amerikas
810 American literature in English
Institution: Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Department: FB 05 Philosophie und Philologie
Place: Mainz
URN: urn:nbn:de:hebis:77-12930
Version: Original work
Publication type: Dissertation
License: In Copyright
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Appears in collections:JGU-Publikationen

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