Illinois Women Novelists at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago
These works have distinctive features that show aspects of the female experience not revealed in better-known works by male authors. They also support the view that women's novels of this time and place provide a kind of bridge between the old place of community in homogeneous, isolated localities and the new circumstances of heterogeneity and national consolidation. Women responded to experience by writing about it from their own special perspective, and in many instances their work presented new, even revolutionary, possiblities. The fiction of the Illinois women is important as social record since it provides an important example of the way a culture thinks, speaks and plans for itself at a particular historical moment. Plots and characters provided readers with ways of thinking about themselves, tried to define certain aspects of the social reality that author and reader shared, dramatized conflicts, and offered various solutions to life's dilemmas. In addition, these novels challenge the boundaries of the literary canon. They are serious works of art that call the assumptions of the second half of the nineteenth century, and our own assumptions about it, into question.
Keywords: Illinois, Women, Novelists, at, the, 1893, World's, Columbian, Exposition, in, Chicago
Dr. Bernice E. Gallagher
Chair of American Studies and Director of Writing Programs, English Department -, Lake Forest College