“A Cool and Deliberate Sort of Madness”: Production, Reproduction, and the Provisional Recovery of Progressive-Era Women’s Narratives.

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Drawing on works by feminist and archival studies scholars such as Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Ann Laura Stoler, and Carla Kaplan, this essay explores a provisional approach to reading multiple recovered narratives by and about women. The project takes as its starting point three related narratives from the early twentieth-century United States: first, the trial account of nurse and immigrant Sarah Koten, who murdered her employer, Dr. Martin Auspitz; second, a play based on Koten by radical labor activist Rose Pastor Stokes; and third, accounts of copycat crimes involving women who likened themselves to Koten. This essay spotlights the unsettled relationship between these narratives of self-defensive struggle with the broader aim of elaborating a set of interpretive practices that attend more diligently to the politics of renarration. In doing so, it calls for an approach to recovery that looks for connections between narratives but resists synthesis, and for a method that is attentive to identification but also notes identification’s profound limits.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)353-377
Number of pages24
JournalSigns: Journal of Women in Culture & Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2018