Treacherous Texts: U.S. Suffrage Literature, 1846-1946
Mary Chapman and Angela Mills, eds.
Rutgers UP, 2011
Treacherous Texts collects more than sixty literary texts written by smart, savvy writers who experimented with genre, aesthetics, humor, and sex appeal in an effort to persuade American readers to support woman suffrage. Although the suffrage campaign is often associated in popular memory with oratory, this anthology affirms that suffragists recognized early on that literature could also exert a power to move readers to imagine new roles for women in the public sphere.
Uncovering startling affinities between popular literature and propaganda, Treacherous Texts samples a rich, decades-long tradition of suffrage literature created by writers from diverse racial, class, and regional backgrounds. Beginning with sentimental fiction and polemic, progressing through modernist and middlebrow experiments, and concluding with post-ratification memoirs and tributes, this anthology showcases lost and neglected fiction, poetry, drama, literary journalism, and autobiography; it also samples innovative print cultural forms devised for the campaign, such as valentines, banners, and cartoons. Featured writers include canonical figures such as Stowe, Fern, Alcott, Gilman, Djuna Barnes, Marianne Moore, Millay, Sui Sin Far, and Gertrude Stein, as well as writers popular in their day but, until now, lost to ours.