Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Linda S. Coleman


By 1950, after three decades of writing, Ruth Suckow (1892-1960) was a well-respected writer whose work seemed headed for a permanent position in the canon of American literature. Instead, Suckow's fiction steadily became less known through the following decades. The question of why her work came to be ignored and why such a position is unwarranted is addressed in A New Reading of Ruth Suckow. The conclusion is that a regionalist categorization and a related gender bias in the literary canon have adversely affected Suckow's works.

Gender bias is reflected in the critical assumptions which ascribe an inferior position to regionalism and, in turn, place a number of women's works in this category while excluding similar male fiction. Further, a male-dominated literary tradition indicates a related prejudice in discounting the sphere of home and family--found in many women's works--as sites of representation for the human condition.

Suckow's works, with a predominant Iowa background and an emphasis upon themes presented through women's lives within the private sphere, therefore, have been critically disregarded for gender-biased reasons. A reconsideration of regionalism and the setting of the private sphere illustrates that significant exploration of character by Suckow is not precluded within the context of a specific environment.