1st Edition

From Subjection to Survival The Artistry of American Women Writers

By Molly J. Freitas Copyright 2023
    164 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    164 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    From Subjection to Survival is a work of feminist scholarship that works at the intersection of literature and art history, the written and the visual. By examining six important and diverse multiethnic American women writers of the twentieth century (Kate Chopin, Anzia Yezierska, Edith Wharton, Zitkala-Ša, Nella Larsen, and Helena María Viramontes), From Subjection to Survival establishes a genealogy of how women writers claim the power and possibility of visual art to make sense of their experiences. These writers write about women and feature female protagonists who engage with art as painters, writers, muses, or icons in the texts themselves. The texts are written visually to expose the fundamental substantiation of gender in art and the unavoidable aestheticization of women in daily life. As every text in this book makes clear, women can claim substantial power through art. Yet, aestheticization is not always positive. As a consequence of such negative possibilities, the artistic self-referentiality of all of the texts in From Subjection to Survival exposes a negotiated course between subjectivity and objectness which women experience when engaging with art. From Subjection to Survival studies this negotiated course to lay bare the difficult path of women’s artistic and aesthetic experience, but ultimately to claim the power and the possibility of the visual arts for women.



    Introduction: From Subjection to Survival: The Artistry of American Women Writers

    Chapter 1: The Artist: Edna Pontellier in Kate Chopin’s The Awakening (1899) and Ruth Raefsky in Anzia Yezierska’s "Wild Winter Love" (1927)

    Chapter 2: The Muse: Helga Crane in Nella Larsen’s Quicksand (1928)

    Chapter 3: The Writer: Margaret Aubyn in Edith Wharton’s The Touchstone (1900) and Zitkala-Ša as herself in American Indian Stories (1921)

    Chapter 4: The Icon: Estrella in Helena María Viramontes’s Under the Feet of Jesus (1996)





    Molly J. Freitas is currently a dean at Bard College. Previously, she was an English professor and led the scholarship program at West Point, the United States Military Academy. Her work has previously been published in American Literary Realism, Soundings, and Studies in the Novel. She holds a master’s degree from Georgetown University and a Ph.D. from Tufts University. She lives in the Hudson Valley of New York with her family.