Books That Inspire 2008

Breaking the Ties That Bind: Popular Stories of the New Woman, 1915-1930
Maureen Honey

I discovered Maureen Honey's volume as a graduate student unsure about how to legitimize my academic interest in the female writers who regularly published fiction in The Woman's Home Companion, The Pictorial Review, Cosmopolitan, and Good Housekeeping. Over a ten-year period, Honey painstakingly read hundreds of women's magazines in order to discern how the fiction published in them expressed society’s hopes—and fears—about what a modern woman with limitless potential could accomplish. From the moment I started to read Honey’s discussion about the ways popular magazine fiction helped women negotiate new identities for themselves in the early 20th century—as career women, as artists, as political beings, as people who did not have to fulfill the demands of family duty—I knew that I had found a mentor and a guide whose incisive readings of women's magazine fiction would be the most important influence on my academic work. By breaking the ties of convention that excluded magazine fiction from serious study, Honey’s book inspired countless scholars to mine basements, attics, and auctions for old magazines and the stories they tell.

Julia C. Ehrhardt
Associate Professor
Joe C. and Carole Kerr McClendon Honors College