Letters of a Woman Homesteader is an epistolary book – that is, a collection of letters. What conventions of letter writing does Stewart follow, and which one does she ignore? Think about how this book would have been different if it were a strict autobiography, if Stewart had turned her story into a work of fiction, or strictly a congressional report.
As noted in the chapter, folklore often deals with insider versus outsider perspectives (referred to as emic versus ettic perspectives, respectively). Max Tizebiatowski’s joke is clearly told from an emic perspective, as Leary’s analysis reveals. How might this joke be different, either in meaning or in delivery, if the teller had been an outsider to the Polish farming culture of Wisconsin?
How does this literature reflect the “reality of farming” and/or the literary era of Realism?
What character strengths make Stewart a success as a woman homesteader? Stewart uses forms of the word “prove” quite a bit. What is she trying to prove about herself?
Taking an ettic perspective, how do farmer’s daughters jokes reflect on gender in the farming culture?
How does this challenge your description of a farmer? As a citizen, spiritually, gendered.
Do You Have Homesteading Roots?
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