Writing against convention : Kate Chopin's short fiction in Vogue, 1893-1900 Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/9593tx68c

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  • Kate Chopin, author of the proto-feminist novel The Awakening, was also a prolific writer of short stories. Nineteen of her stories were originally published in Vogue magazine between 1893 and 1900. This study looks at six of these stories, "The Father of Desiree's Baby," "A Respectable Woman," "The Dream of an Hour," "Her Letters," "A Pair of Silk Stockings," and "An Egyptian Cigarette" in the context of their original publication in Vogue, comparing and contrasting them to the other material found in the surrounding pages of the magazine. While both Vogue and Chopin's fiction are characterized by a tension between the traditional and the progressive, Chopin often took a more progressive stance with her unconventional women characters in her Vogue stories than Vogue magazine as a whole ever dared to take. In setting, theme, and character, these six stories either move past the subtle progressivism of Vogue or more thoroughly subvert traditional notions of a fulfilled existence for women in late nineteenth-century society. Reading these six stories in the context of Vogue's pages reveals how Chopin extended the magazine's subtly progressive messages. Reading her stories against Vogue and noticing the themes Chopin's stories raise that Vogue ignores or dismisses can sharpen understanding of Chopin's relationship to her initial audience, also bringing new meaning for readers today. When read in their original context in Vogue, these six stories affirm Kate Chopin not only as a master of the short story genre, but also as a woman who consistently used her fiction to fight for greater freedom and fulfillment for women in their social, sexual, and spiritual roles.
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