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Bohemia in America, 1858-1920$
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Joanna Levin

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780804760836

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804760836.001.0001

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Regional Bohemias

Regional Bohemias

(p.243) 5 Regional Bohemias
Bohemia in America, 1858-1920
Stanford University Press

The earliest Bohemians in the United States viewed the poetic landscapes of “Bohemia” and “Arcadia” as essentially interchangeable. Bret Harte, for instance, argued that there was little competition between Bohemia and the Arcadia of pastoral romance. Whereas the regional metonymizes the provincial and upholds traditional values, Bohemia represents urbane and risqué metropolitanism. Bohemia maps a spatial and temporal split between the rural/regional and the urban/national, aligning with the latter. At the same time, Bohemians rejected such antinomies. Regional variants of la vie bohème often took the form of periodicals flaunting “Bohemia” in their titles. These regional Bohemians aggressively and explicitly attempted to counteract the cultural hegemony of the Northeast and enabled a number of women writers to embrace the modernity of the “New Woman” from within their local cultures. Seizing upon the mythos of Bohemia, many women contributors articulated a progressive feminist politics and helped to revise existing conceptions of “regionalism” and women's literature.

Keywords:   Bohemia, metropolitanism, Bohemians, la vie bohème, periodicals, women writers, New Woman, regionalism, Arcadia, feminist politics

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