Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Narrative Compass: Stories that Guide Women's Lives

A Narrative Compass: Stories that Guide Women's Lives

A Narrative Compass: Stories that Guide Women's Lives edited by Betsy Hearne and Roberta Seelinger Trites is a book I only recently learned about and have added to my own list of "must acquire soon." It was released last year but I don't remember seeing it referenced anywhere.  Not that I get around all that much beyond the immediacy of fairy tale scholarship. Still, I would have noticed a book with one of Kay Nielsen's East of the Sun and West of the Moon illustrations on it. My brain is hard-wired to notice books like that after so many years.

Here's the book description from the publisher:

Each of us has a narrative compass, a story that has guided our lifework. In this extraordinary collection, women scholars from a variety of disciplines identify and examine the stories that have inspired them, haunted them, and shaped their research, from Little House on the Prairie to Little Women, from the fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland to Nancy Drew, Mary Jane, and even the Chinese memoir Jottings from the Transcendant's Abode at Mt. Youtai. Telling the "story of her story" leads each of the essayists to insights about her own approach to studying narratives and to a deeper, often surprising, understanding of the power of imagination.

Contributors are Deyonne Bryant, Minjie Chen, Cindy L. Christiansen, Beverly Lyon Clark, Karen Coats, Wendy Doniger, Bonnie Glass-Coffin, Betsy Hearne, Joanna Hearne, Ann Hendricks, Rania Huntington, Christine Jenkins, Kimberly Lau, Pamela Riney-Kehrberg, Maria Tatar, Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, Roberta Seelinger Trites, Claudia Quintero Ulloa, and Ofelia Zepeda.
And here's the table of contents:

Introduction ix
Roberta Seelinger Trites
and Betsy Hearne 
Part 1. Finding the Compass
1. The Tea Fragrance Chamber 1
Rania Huntington
2. Academic Grief: Journeys with Little Women 8
Roberta Seelinger Trites
3. Girl: Stories on the Way to Feminism 19
Kimberly J. Lau
4. A Language Journey 31
Ofelia Zepeda
5. A Thousand and One Tales 39
Maria Tatar
6. A Passage to, and from, India 47
Wendy Doniger
Part 2. Literary and Critical Directions
7. Balancing on Interpretive Fences or
Leaping into the Void: Reconciling Myself
with Castaneda and The Teachings of Don Juan 57
Bonnie Glass-Coffin
8. Wet Work and Dry Work:
Notes from a Lacanian Mother 68
Karen Coats
9. The Pleasures of Dreaming:
How L. M. Montgomery Shaped My Lifeworlds 80
Ebony Elizabeth Thomas
10. Her Story and History: Journeys
with Laura Ingalls Wilder 96
Pamela Riney-Kehrberg
11. A Moral Compass: Dorothy Sterling’s Mary Jane 102
Deyonne Bryant
12. Uniquely Qualified 115
Ann Hendricks
Part 3. Escaping Home, Finding Home
13. Wondering with Alice 125
Beverly Lyon Clark
14. Romancing the Muse of History:
The Secret Garden, Mary Lennox, and Me 131
Christine a. Jenkins
15. The Ghost in the Borrowed Story:
A Mystery in Twenty Chapters 141
Cindy L. Christiansen
16. Generations of Melodrama: A Cinderella Story 156
Claudia Quintero Ulloa
17. My Journey Home 170
Minjie Chen
18. Birth Maps 180
Joanna Hearne
19. Bringing the Story Home:
A Journey with Beauty and the Beast 194
Betsy Hearne
Contributors 213
Index 217
So, yes, definitely a wonderful mix of personal essays about the impact of some of the most beloved literature of women. We get Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Hans Christian Andersen for the fairy tale fans.  We also get L. M. Montgomery (Anne of Green Gables and company), Little Women, Laura Ingalls Wilder, The Secret Garden, Nancy Drew, Alice in Wonderland and some lesser known favorites. Many of the same books that defined my own childhood and adolescent reading.

To supplement the book, a website was built for readers to contribute their own stories, but there doesn't seem to have been much traffic to it, only a few stories submitted.  Mostly there is just book promotion there, most of which I have summed up here.  Anyway, the reviews have been positive and the excerpts I've read from browsing through Look Inside on Amazon and the book website are quite promising.  Once I'm finished with Cinderella Tales, I think this will find a way to my house as a gift to myself...

1 comment:

  1. This looks really interesting - oh dear, another one to add to the ever-growing pile!