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Wednesday, April 26 • 11:15am - 11:35am
Exploring The Gender Binary In Willa Cather’s Fiction

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This thesis uses a psychological approach to explore the behavior of men and women throughout three of 20th Century American novelist, Willa Cather’s works. My research demonstrates that gender inequality within Willa Cather’s fiction directly correlates to the time period in which she was writing, but is not exclusive to the 1920s. While discussing gender dynamics within Cather’s works, many scholars focus on her apolitical approach of coping with her personal struggle with gender and sexuality. In this thesis, I examine Cather’s ability to discuss these issues throughout an art form, while she appears to remain apolitical. In order to demonstrate the negative impact of gender binaries, Cather focuses on different aspects of female oppression throughout her works. For example, Cather shows the reader the dangers of objectifying women in My Antonia, while in Coming, Aphrodite! she illuminates how men detest female agency. She combines both of these ideas in one of her later novels, Lucy Gayheart, where she reveals how difficult it is to become successful and live on one’s own free will as a woman. I conclude that the hardships women faced within Cather’s fiction were directly influenced by the oppression of women in the 1920s. Although there has been progress towards the issues in which Cather discusses, female oppression and objectification still exist in the world today.


Wednesday April 26, 2017 11:15am - 11:35am
232 Karpen Hall