Wandering over Boundless Fields: The Fiction of Willa Cather and the Reformation of Communal Memory
American Political Thought
This article explores the ways in which Willa Cather’s early novels about life on the prairies demonstrate how the struggle to survive and prosper on the frontier can teach important political virtues, but not, in Cather’s depiction, the individualistic virtues of self-reliance and independence so often idealized in American political thought and literature. Instead, Cather shows how these experiences shaped prairie communities that were bound together by settlers’ recognition of their shared vulnerabilities and mutual dependence. In her writings, Cather further demonstrates how artists can play a political role by crafting an alternative, if romanticized, story of American democracy and the virtues necessary to sustain it.
Old, James Paul, "Wandering over Boundless Fields: The Fiction of Willa Cather and the Reformation of Communal Memory" (2018). Political Science and International Relations Faculty Publications. 26.