October 15, 2013
Jennifer Tuttle, Ph.D., Dorothy M. Healy Professor of Literature and Health, presented this week at the annual conference of the Western Literature Association in Berkeley, California.
Tuttle's paper, "'and the land was fair before them': Charlotte Perkins Gilman's Herland and the Panama Pacific International Exposition," offers a new reading of Gilman's 1915 utopian novel.
While Gilman's fiction has traditionally been read as reflecting her affiliation as an Easterner, Tuttle's recent work recovering Gilman's Western orientation demands a new reading of her best known work of long fiction. Her presentation argues that the novel was the textual counterpart of the Exposition itself, which occurred in San Francisco at the same time that Gilman's novel was appearing serially. Both the novel and the world's fair proposed model societies localized in California that would realize the aims of U.S. imperialism.
Tuttle’s presentation is part of a longer essay, "Charlotte Perkins Gilman and the U.S. West," which is forthcoming in a volume titled A Woman's Place: The Geographies of Charlotte Perkins Gilman, edited by Jill Bergman.