Bitter Tastes

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 10.42.06 AMBitter Tastes: Literary Naturalism and Early Cinema in American Women’s Writing.

University of Georgia Press, September 2016.

Paperback, October 2018.

Choice Outstanding Academic Book Award, 2017.

SSAWW Edition Award, one of two Honorable Mentions, 2018

Reviewed in Choice, April 2017: “Campbell’s analysis of the interplay between women authors (including screenwriters) and the medium of cinema is nothing less than astounding. The author covers a broad scope, including neglected writers such as Evelyn Scott as well as famous novelists such as Edith Wharton. Yet despite the incredible range of Campbell’s discussion, the book’s treatment of each element is meticulous in detail and gripping in presentation. Bitter Tastes should be required reading for any serious student of naturalism, women’s writing, or early film. Summing up: Essential. Upper-division Undergraduates through Faculty.”

Reviewed by Molly Freitas in Studies in the Novel 49.2 (Summer 2017): 280-281: “Bitter Tastes is overall a truly impressive work, exhaustively researched and painstakingly argued. It is mandatory reading for literary critics of American women’s writing and naturalism, as well as for feminist and early American film critics. By invoking regional, sentimental, reform, and Modernist texts by American women writers, Campbell effectively explodes the parameters—and thus the reader’s understanding of those parameters—of naturalistic literature. However, by persuasively analyzing those texts through cinematic history and the commodified aesthetics of film production, Campbell makes an even more powerful argument for the necessity of interdisciplinary study as the best means to generate new forms of cultural understanding.”

Reviewed by Katherine Fusco in American Literary Realism 50.2 (Winter 2018): “The quibble some readers might have with the book, that it contains material enough for two manuscripts, is also the quality that gives Bitter Tastes the authority to make synthetic claims both small and lovely—in farm novels husbands “control the money and houses . . . but wives control the pie”—and large and  eld-shifting—servant women in modernist novels remind “modernism of what it leaves behind and the naturalistic elements that it can never erase.” For scholars and students of turn-of-the-century U.S. literature, this is a book to return to, again and again.”

Reviewed by Linda Kornasky in Studies in American Naturalism 11.2 (Winter 2016): “One may be quite sure that Campbell’s complex and nuanced emphases in this ambitious study—on women naturalists’ engagement with issues of reproduction, disability, and other biological matters—will lead naturalism studies into new terrain that will be worthy to explore further for many years into the future.”

Reviewed by Margaret Toth in Edith Wharton Review 33.2 (2017): “[A] groundbreaking study that will influence scholarship on naturalism and U. S. Women’s writing in significant ways. Donna Campbell’s Bitter Tastes has paved the way for new interpretations of not only Edith Wharton but also all the writers she considers.”

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Screen Shot 2019-03-08 at 1.08.46 PMIntroduction: Naturalism, Early Film, and American Women’s Writing

  1. Grim Realism and the Culture of Feeling: Rebecca Harding Davis, Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, and Lillie Chace Wyman
  2. The Darwinists: Borderlands, Evolution, and Trauma
  3. Bohemian Time: Ellen Glasgow, Mary Austin, and Willa Cather
  4. Red Kimonos and White Slavery: The Fallen Woman in Film and Print
  5. “Where Are My Children?”: Race, Citizenship, and the Stolen Child
  6. “Manure Widows” and Middlebrow Fiction: Rural Naturalism in the 1920s
  7. Waste, Hoarding, and Secrets: Modernist Naturalism and the Servant’s Body