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Episode Info: J. Samaine Lockwood, Associate Professor in the English Department at George Mason University, specializes in nineteenth-century American literature and gender and sexuality studies. In an hour-long conversation, we discuss her new book Archives of Desire: The Queer Historical Work of New England Regionalism (University of North Carolina Press, 2015). New England has long presented an idealized sense of its past. Restored colonial homes, antique shops, white picket fences around town greens—these are some features you may associate with a conservative, even blinkered view of the past. But the reality is otherwise. Lockwood shows how the story behind this burst of regionalist pride, much the product of the late nineteenth century, is queerer and more women-centered than you could possibly have imagined. In her book, Lockwood argues that nineteenth-century women writers, photographers, and colonial revivalists presented the queer, unmarried daughter of New England as a figure crucial to remembering and producing US history, crucial to that history itself. These women include Sarah Orne Jewett, Alice Morse Earle, C. Alice Baker, as well as Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Pauline Elizabeth Hopkins, and many more. Their literary work, history writing, china collecting, and home restoration evinced a deep cosmopolitanism far exceeding the limits of any supposed provincialism of the New England spinster, both in their own time and in the past about which they wrote. We talk about how the late-nineteenth century New England regionalists aligned themselves with colonial forms of dissent against monarchical rule, but also rule by men. They followed the trails of colonial women who once manned garrisons in times of war, as well as women who, after capture, chose to stay living with Indians. Much of our conversation talks about how the later women regionalists found roots in the past for their own forms of living intimately with women in the present, including in romantic reRead more »

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