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Elaine Goodale Eastman, Modernist Author? Re-visiting a Border-crossing Woman Writer’s Place in Literary History



On associe rarement le nom d’Elaine Goodale Eastman au modernisme littéraire transnational. Prise dans son ensemble, toutefois, son œuvre prolifique peut se lire comme une réponse complexe et variée au mouvement moderniste. Eastman a expérimenté avec divers genres, comme la poésie lyrique, le journalisme ou la littérature enfantine à visée didactique, en sus de produire ce qu’elle considérait comme des « œuvres alimentaires » destinées à subvenir aux besoins de sa famille. Son travail de rédactrice et sa collaboration avec son époux Charles Eastman ont contribué à l’essor de la littérature amérindienne à une période marquée par la volonté des États-Unis de supprimer la culture indigène, processus auquel l’écrivaine s’est opposée de manière parfois ambivalente. Les écrits autobiographiques publiés tard dans sa carrière montrent que les aspirations d’Eastman ne sont pas sans lien avec celles du modernisme, alors même que l’écrivaine s’efforce de concilier les éléments intersectionnels de son parcours personnel avec les succès et les revers d’une carrière littéraire protéiforme.

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Our American cousins have made ‘a new departure’ in the way of wonders […] Miss Elaine Goodale and Miss Dora Reade Goodale, of the respective ages of eleven and thirteen, have published a volume of poetry, now in its fifth edition, which is really noteworthy, even independently of the extreme immaturity of the writers […] There is nothing of a hothouse character about their muse; the fruit is wholesome and not forced. (“Poetry and Belles Lettres” 337)

Mrs. Elaine Eastman of 187 Elm Street, widow of Dr. Charles A. Eastman, died at Hadley today at the age of 90. When Mrs. Eastman was 12 she and her sister, Dora, wrote “Apple Blossoms,” a book of poems for children that attained wide prominence. She was the first supervisor of schools in the Indian Territory of Dakota in 1890. Later she and her husband published several books on Indian life that recently have been republished as textbooks. (“Mrs. Charles Eastman” 25)

1In the two epigraphs above, framing the long publishing career of Elaine Goodale (Mrs. Charles) Eastman, we see hints of how gendered expectations shaping women’s available social roles in her day, including those linked to family and to professional writing, have constrained perceptions of her place in literary history. In addition, although we see signs of how Goodale Eastman’s rootedness in New England did not prevent her from reaching transnational audiences (like British readers of The Nineteenth Century) and engaging in activist work far beyond her original and final home region (all the way to Indian nations out West), the retrospective view of her oeuvre, nonetheless, has often been constrained by its links to domesticated genres (children’s poetry, textbooks). Overall, that is, while several aspects of her authorship align well with updated conceptions of literary modernism, hers is not a name typically included in rosters for the literary movement. This essay re-situates her writings within that context—even though she sometimes expressed doubts as to her position in such a field. Accordingly, this review of Goodale Eastman’s authorial career will demonstrate how her diverse publications’ gendered self-positioning within complex cultural borderlands at different periods in her long life exercised a liminal brand of modernism well worth revisiting.

2To characterize Goodale Eastman as a modernist involves, on one level, re-evaluating her work in light of such analyses of women, modernism, and modernity (Miller 2007; Ardis and Lewis 2003; Cuddy-Keane et. al 2014). Consistent with the arguments presented in the Ardis and Lewis essay anthology, we need to develop an updated notion of literary modernism and the related, yet distinct, organizing term of “modernity” (Ardis 4, 3). Then we can open up our view of literary modernism to include women writers whose work focused more directly on remedying social issues and deployed more varied genres than the stereotypical male modernist poet producing opaque aesthetic lyrics (think T. S. Eliot’s “Wasteland”) or novelist counterparts embracing experimental forms (think Joyce’s Ulysses). As Ardis argues, we should ask: “How were women such as Alice Meynell and Jane Addams […] deploying ‘conservative’ literary forms and Victorian ideals of femininity as tactics of feminist critique, activism, and social experimentation to which modernist notions of ‘experimental writing’ cannot do justice?” (Ardis 4). Thus, Ardis’s work pushes beyond familiar modernist genres to others that were doing important sociopolitical (if not high-art) work, such as photography, political pamphlets, textbooks, and journalism. Such a framework certainly invites a reexamination of Goodale Eastman’s writing, which embraced diverse genres at different points in her career.

  • 1 In his “Afterword,” Schedler posits that the White/Other pairings of his core chapters could be vie (...)

3On a related track to considering her gendered relationship to modernism, our understanding of Eastman’s authorship profits from examining how her lived experiences in a series of cultural borderlands supported her writing’s engagement with an evolving version of what Christopher Schedler has termed “border modernism.” Schedler’s 2002 monograph by the same name examines several pairings of Anglo-American/European modernists (D. H. Lawrence, Ernest Hemingway, and Willa Cather) who “turned to the border to modernize the ‘native’ literary and cultural traditions of the Americas” with a parallel set of writers (Mariano Azuela, John Josepha Mathews, and Américo Paredea) who drew on modernist approaches to generate a counter-modernism from within their own border identities and experiences (Schedler xvi). Both these sets of writers, Schedler suggests, illustrate how what he terms border modernism “shares with its metropolitan kin” certain questions about individuals’ place in the world and about how knowledge is made. Yet, they simultaneously resist literary modernism’s formalist isolation of texts from their historical context, its cultivation of difficulty, and the idea that meaning resides within the aesthetic object itself (xiii). Despite this shared embrace of “the American spirit of place,” however, he distinguishes between the two groups. Those border modernists who he views as aligned with colonizing powers (i.e., Lawrence, Hemingway, Cather) “often viewed […] indigenous traditions as either extinguished or degraded by modernity” (xvi). In contrast, Schedeler argues, border writers who spoke from within a Native affiliation enacted an “intercultural aesthetic” more fully “characterized by an emphasis on historicism, orality, simplification, and [direct] association with the ‘other’” (xvi)1.

4Adapting Schedler’s framework to revisit Goodale Eastman’s career illuminates how her original white New England regional identity shifted through sustained connections with indigenous America, beginning with her empathetic teaching of Native Americans in the West and deepening via her marriage to Santee Sioux intellectual Charles (Ohiyesa) Eastman. Especially during the middle phases of her authorship, as wife and mother of their mixed-race children, she reconfigured her own identity by adapting multiple genres to a “border modernism” neither Anglo nor Indian, but vexedly hybrid. Locating Goodale Eastman within this conceptual mapping, I will revisit her decades-long publishing history across four stages:

  • her celebrity-building publications of youthful poetry;

  • journalism linked to her engagement with the so-called “Indian problem”;

  • didactic books for family reading, many of them co-authored with (or edited for) her husband, Charles Eastman;

  • a cluster of 1930s’ life-writings on womanly authorship published after her separation from her spouse.

5I will interpret each of these periods in light of personal factors shaping their production and trends then evolving within the (gendered) (border) modernist movement. In that context, for each period, I will highlight cultural arbiters’ evaluations of her writing. I will also offer comparative references to other writers whose work has already drawn attention from scholarship aimed at (re-)gendering modernism, even as I also call for affirming that a genuinely transnational view of literary modernism needs to take into account the interactions between US imperialism and Native nations. Overall, this essay offers more of a biographical, sociological and cultural than an aesthetic, close-reading-based review of Goodale Eastman’s career. Through this methodology, however, I will lay groundwork for deeper looks at the aesthetic strengths and weaknesses of her individual writings, including their efforts to claim a gendered brand of modernism both locally grounded and cosmopolitan in reach.

Pre-modern(?) precocious poetess

  • 2 See Ann Ardis’s “Introduction,” where she calls for “challeng[ing] classic modernist ‘narratives of (...)
  • 3 See William Spengemann’s preface to Three American Poets, where he presents Whitman, Dickinson, and (...)
  • 4 Bennett’s, Poets in the Public Sphere is augmented by her edited anthology, Nineteenth-Century Amer (...)
  • 5 In their introduction, the editors critique work that follows rigid periodization and advocate for (...)

6Elaine Goodale’s earliest publications—poems in middlebrow magazines and in several bound collections—appeared before “modernism” was identifying itself as a literary movement, rejecting the Victorian period for a “modern” era, and popular for high culture2. Intriguingly, by reading proleptically, scholars such as William Spengemann have cast other American poets of this mid-to-late nineteenth century era (such as Dickinson, Melville, and Whitman) as pre-modernists who forecast the later movement’s commitment to verbal experimentation and themes eschewing excessive sentimentality3. At first glance, Elaine Goodale’s early poetry would not fit such a pattern. Yet, Paula Bennet’s assembly of periodical-published women’s poems from across a long nineteenth century has demonstrated how some writers’ astute applications of longstanding poetic traditions merit appreciative reading along modernist lines. As Bennett’s focus on craft in their work has shown, revered dimensions of modernist writing are quite evident in nineteenth-century poets like Elaine and her sister Dora4. Furthermore, revisiting Elaine Goodale’s youthful lyrics within the flexible, extended framework for studying modernism advocated by Vassiliki Kolocotroni and her colleagues encourages us to takes into account the responses to her early poetry when it first appeared5. Relevant hallmarks of these contemporary assessments would include their emphasis on her poetry’s admirable craft and the cultivation of the artist herself as a figure to venerate, even to canonize.

  • 6 For example, see Goodale’s “Ashes of Roses,” which appeared in St. Nicholas (109), The Literary Wor (...)

7However “(proto)modernist” we might label this poetry today, Elaine Goodale’s initial forays into authorship certainly affiliated with dominant expectations for feminine-gendered sentimental writing of the period. Publishing in venues such as Saint Nicholas magazine, both Elaine and her sister Dora produced conventional content for lyrics with regular rhyme and meter, often calling on readers’ emotional responses to nature6, thereby echoing such then-familiar lady versifiers as Lydia Sigourney. Moving from stand-alone poems in friendly periodical pages such as the Massachusetts Ploughman and the Messenger to several book-length collections, the two sisters became a literary sensation on both sides of the Atlantic, partly due to their youth, but also due to reviewers’ positive judgements of their craft. Indeed, while highlighting the unconventionality of two such young voices emerging from a remote American rural setting, reviewers repeatedly praised them for their artistic skill and their calls for readers’ deep thinking—traits Spengemann has more recently invoked in dubbing Whitman, Dickinson, and Melville as proto-modernists.

8In the U.S., a slew of celebratory reviews led to multiple printings of their initial collection, Apple Blossoms (1878), and to additional anthologies such as In Berkshire with the Wild Flowers (1880) and All Round the Year: Verses from Sky Farm (1881). A biographical headnote in the December 1877 issue of St. Nicholas, dubbed “Poems by Two Little American Girls,” had already helped establish the sisters’ reputation as gifted writers drawing on New England rural nature in their lyrics: “Their home, where their infancy and childhood have been passed, is on a large and isolated farm, lying upon the broad slopes of the beautiful Berkshire hills of western Massachusetts, and is quaintly called ‘Sky Farm.’ Here, in a simple country life, divided between books and nature, they began, almost as soon as they began to talk, to express in verse what they saw and felt, rhyme and rhythm seeing to come by instinct” (Apple Blossoms 109).

  • 7 In Cultures of Modernism, Cristanne Miller posits that “national and local structures” of “location (...)

9This social construction of the Goodales as prodigies writing in a transitional literary space continued in later profiles, such as 1878’s “The Child Poets” in Zion’s Herald, which positioned them as rooted in their rural homeland yet addressing an audience anticipating modernism’s metropolitan emphasis: “Away up on a mountain-top, in the midst of a cultivated table-land on one of the southern spurs of the Berkshire Hills, two thousand feet above the level of the sea, live the child-poets—Elaine (14) and Dora Goodale (11)—some of whose poems have lately found their way into the prints of the outer world” (270). Quoting from an earlier feature story in the New York Evening Post, “The Child Poets” augmented an emerging rhetoric envisioning the Goodales as already connected to transnational literary networks, both through their audiences’ responses and their own reading7. For instance, although one anecdote heralded their handmade monthly literary magazine as “being neatly copied by Elaine on note-paper sewed in pamphlet form” for family sharing, another section of this account described her attentive study of the Irish clergyman-writer Thomas “Percy’s ‘Reliques of Ancient English Poetry’ when she was not yet six years old” and predicted more “poems by these gifted children” would be reaching far-flung audiences (270).

  • 8 Which included a collection by Percy Bisshe Shelley, an anthology of writings by John Ruskin, Jules (...)

10That same year, Appleton’s Encyclopedia Review included Apple Blossoms in a review of the year’s most important poetic publications, including texts by already-then-canonized “fireside poet” figures such as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Oliver Wendell Holmes, as well as a few women writers like Celia Thaxter and Louise Moulton. This encyclopedia writer saluted the Goodales’ poetry for its “unmistakable indications of genius” (“L: Literature” 478). Similarly, American Bookseller’s internationally-framed roundup of significant titles for 18778 intoned:

  • 9 For another enthusiastic review of Apple Blossoms casting both girl-authors as having “the vision a (...)

Perhaps the most remarkable book of the year is Apple Blossoms, the poems of the little sisters, Elaine and Dora Read Goodale […] Their simple naturalness is their greatest charm. There is no trace of the abnormal development of the infant prodigy in these songs, that seem to burst spontaneously from their hearts, singing themselves, as it were. (552)9

11Such celebrations of genius-tinged celebrity quickly extended across the ocean, as seen in a burst of articles in British periodicals. By August 1880, The Nineteenth Century had printed an enthusiastic account of Apple Blossoms in a roundup of “Poetry and Belles Lettres,” giving substantially more space and praise to the Goodales’ poems than to many of the numerous British works reviewed. Noting the multiple editions already in print, this overview echoed American praise extoling the girl-authors for avoiding “melodrama and romance, as is the way of juvenile poets,” to “sing of what they have seen” in nature: “There is nothing of a hothouse character about their muse; the fruit is wholesome and not forced,” evidencing both “simplicity” and “grace” (337).

12An 1881 Athenaeum evaluation of All Round the Year, an expanded version of the Goodales’ In Berkshire with the Wild Flowers (1879-1880), commended, and quoted from, two of Elaine’s poems, in particular: “Trailing Arbutus” and “Indian Pipe.” Praising her writings as “delicate, sustained productions” exhibiting “a keen sense of colour” and “easy versification” with “justness of epithet […] worthy of mature years,” this reviewer lauded Elaine’s poetics more on aesthetic terms than for being the product of a young girl. In singling out her “Indian Pipe,” this British critic credited the poem’s “grace of description,” achieving “a pitch of real power” beyond all others. Here, favoring a poem that reads far more like a darkly reflective Emily Dickinson lyric than a sentimental Sigourney text, Athenaeum’s reviewer addressed her poetry as a transnational reader valuing modernism-oriented experimentation and verbal dexterity.

  • 10 See also the blend of gorgeous color illustrations (by Alexander Pope) and poetry (by Goodale) in T (...)

13Before long, even as their two names continued to be yoked, Elaine was seeking to carve out an authorial identity distinct from her sister’s, as seen in the release of the 1881 Journal of a Farmer’s Daughter10. A review in the UK-based Contemporary Literature is representative of the positive responses this book quickly accrued:

Miss Elaine Goodale has written a delightful little volume, with the title of “Journal of a Farmer’s Daughter,” which is one of the pleasantest and most poetic contributions that America has sent to us for some time. It is a pleasant combination of charming prose and charming verse, full of the praise of Nature, and of all kind thoughts and feelings. (“Miscellanea” 573)

14Such international assessments of Elaine’s youthful poetry were made possible not only through qualities of craft consistent with the transitional aesthetics of the time but also by virtue of being published by a highly professional New York-based house (Putnam’s), well positioned to produce editions with polished design (including multiple illustrations) and having long-established nationwide and transatlantic distribution networks. Putnam’s sponsorship fostered—and marketed—a rural-yet-metropolitan identity for the young Goodales. In that latter context, however de rigueur it might become for modernist poets to publish in little magazines and scorn money-grubbing, George Putnam’s 1915 memoir would look back on the publishers’ launch and promotion of the Goodale sisters as a highlight in his own business history—and a cause for “great rejoicing” among Goodale family members, who had never had “any such money in the farmhouse before” (Putnam 65).

15What would Elaine Goodale’s place be in the history of modernism, had she continued to focus on poetry-writing, particularly the publication of beautifully designed books, rather than shifting to activist engagement with the public issues of her day, and a genre more in tune with those projects—journalism? Might she have achieved an even higher level of craft, with more formal experimentation, if the lyric had remained her primary genre for authorship rather than, through many decades, a sideline producing only occasional magazine poems? Such a question can never be answered. But a look at recent recovery effort of Dora’s late-career poems by Paula Bennett is intriguing in this regard, suggesting how Elaine could have carved a similar path yoking lyric craft with social activism, in line with Ardis’s model for women’s literary modernism linked to social causes (referenced above).

16Bennett’s influential study of women poets closes with a Coda where Dora figures prominently. In Bennett’s view, Dora’s eventual integration of public activism and poetry-writing while serving as a health care worker at Uplands Hospital in Appalachia during the 1930s merits high praise. Bennett suggests that, in that setting, Dora’s “talent, her desire to write, and her politics finally come together.” And she judges Dora’s last collection, Mountain Dooryards (1941), as exemplifying both “flexibility and genius” by making a “transition to a twentieth-century poetic while still retaining the best of high sentimentality” in content, if not in form (Bennett 214). Pointing to features of Dora’s collection that are consistent with long-held visions of modernism’s experimental poetics such as free verse, dialect, and melding of craft with feeling, Bennett elevates this Goodale sister’s literary profile. She claims that Dora, in a period sometimes associated with modernism’s twilight phase, became a writer both honoring poetic traditions yet achieving a mature aesthetic voice “speaking across the barriers of time, space, and social/cultural difference” (215).

17If Elaine cannot stake such a claim through her early poetry, do new visions of women’s transnational modernism allow her entry to canonical status via a different route? Below, I’ll address that question in connection with her journalism and her complex engagement with her husband’s racial and literary heritage. When we juxtapose Elaine’s early poetic rural-metropolitan authorship with her re-location across the country and back, her immersion in the political debates of the “Indian problem,” and a marriage placing her in a liminal social space, we can see how her version literary modernism requires multiple interpretive lenses to be brought into clear focus.

Politicized journalism and vexed collaborations

  • 11 See Alexander 1992 and Eick. Reflecting back in 1930’s The Voice at Eve on her time teaching at Ham (...)
  • 12 Hampton originally served only African American students, but Indians began attending after General (...)

18As documented above, Elaine Goodale attained transatlantic status as a poet during the 1870s and the early 1880s. But she soon pulled away from that path to cultural acclaim to immerse in one of the thorniest social issues of the time: how best to educate—and hopefully assimilate—Native American youth. Her entry point into this controversial intercultural territory began when, at her mother’s urging11, twenty-year-old Elaine accepted a position at the Virginia-based Hampton Institute led by Superintendent Samuel A. Custer, then educating both African American and Native American students. Elaine taught in what was called the “Indian Department”12.

  • 13 In this essay, I tend to use “Native” and “Native American” when speaking from our contemporary per (...)
  • 14 As editor Kay Graber explains in her “Foreword” for Sister to the Sioux, the narrative long existed (...)

19Armstrong also put her in charge of an “Indian page” in Hampton’s in-house Southern Workman publication, a step which provided an entrée into her decades-long, often opinionated reporting on the education of Native Americans (Eastman 2004 21)13. A supportive mentor, Armstrong granted her wish to see where the school’s Native students were often coming from when they arrived at Hampton: he sponsored her trip to the Dakota territory at what she would retrospectively term “a critical moment in the history of the West” (28). After observing both a well-regarded school run by Bishop William Hare, on the one hand (27), and the grievous lack of similar local schools in other Indian communities (25), on the other, Elaine determined to found an on-reservation schoolhouse of her own. She had, first, to convince the head of Indian Affairs, John Atkins, in Washington, D.C. But by 1886, she was back at White River camp, at the Lower Brulé agency, along with her Hampton friend Laura Tileston, “a pair of up-and-coming new England schoolma’ams” working in “two distinct worlds existing side by side”—where young Dakotas could now rub up against “the white man’s world” (33) in a school setting that at least valued their tribal community language and culture and allowed them to stay connected to their home communities14.

  • 15 That alternatives in line with today’s ideals of inclusivity and diversity were hardly considered i (...)
  • 16 See my discussion of Goodale Eastman’s complicated stance on Native education in Learning Legacies, (...)
  • 17 One productive path for studying Goodale’s writing from this period would situate it in a comparati (...)

20In 1890, she was selected by the Bureau of Indian Affairs to serve as Supervisor of Indian Education in the two Dakotas. Visiting day schools and running training institutes for other educators, she produced numerous periodical stories for Eastern readers. Her writing aimed at promoting better-informed support for assimilationist education15—with a preference for day schools linked to tribal nations’ own community settings rather than for boarding schools like Richard Henry Pratt’s in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and its many imitators16. Her accounts can certainly be faulted today for their often-patronizing standpoint toward Indian peoples. But they do exhibit a reach (at least) toward genuine empathy that makes her growing cross-regional reputation as a journalist both understandable and worth further study, especially in the context of “New Woman” professional pathways opening up for women’s authorship at the time17.

  • 18 In “Building a National Literature,” Robert A. Gross points to the growing power of a few publishin (...)

21Shifting her writerly production to such periodical prose at a time when “literature” was increasingly defined via other genres, particularly those appearing in elegantly designed books like those she and her sister had been publishing earlier18, Goodale understood that the subjects she wrote about—and her own living and working space—were far removed from poetic aesthetics. Demonstrating her own internalization of modernist literary value systems, Elaine herself would eventually be rather apologetic about this writing in The Voice at Eve, her 1930 memoir to be discussed in more detail below. Of her numerous feature stories, Goodale Eastman would declare: “My songs of Indian life exhibit a pardonable coloring of romance. However, I continued to write mainly in prose and with serious educational purpose—in other words, to turn out propaganda rather than literature” (The Voice at Eve 25). Despite her own dismissive characterization later, her feature stories presented vivid portraits of Native communities’ daily lives, carefully pitched to her White reading audience in the East.

22So, was this writing in any way “modernist”? In calling for an appreciation of women writers’ diverse engagements with modernism, Ardis invokes Raymond Williams’s efforts, in The Politics of Modernism, to promote increased attention to “‛the poor world which has always been peripheral to metropolitan systems,’” and related questions about “the nature and meaning of ‘progress’ in the modern world” (Ardis 5-6). In that context, Goodale Eastman’s periodical publications from this period—focusing on the plight of Native peoples within their own then-constrained tribal nations, far removed from the U.S.’s metropolitan centers of political power, but still in its insistent thrall—can claim a valued place.

23At the close of 1890, she fell in love with the charismatic Charles Eastman, himself a product of assimilation education culminating in college at Dartmouth and physician training at Boston University. Coming back West to serve as government physician at Pine Ridge, Charles met Elaine. They married in 1891 on the heels of the Wounded Knee Massacre, which left them both shaken, but committed to serving Native peoples together. As Elaine would recall in her Sister to the Sioux memoir composed late in life:

The gift of myself to a Sioux just at this crisis in their affairs will seem to some readers unnatural […]. In reality, it followed almost inevitably upon my passionate preoccupation with the welfare of those whom I already looked upon as my adopted people […] [T]o him, as he once said, it seemed as if I carried on my heart the sorrows of his people. (Sister to the Sioux 169)

  • 19 See Alexander 1988. Alexander argues that Goodale Eastman became “Writer as Helpmate,” employing “h (...)
  • 20 In “The ‘Indian Problem,’” I focus on texts published through Elaine’s and Charles’s collaborations (...)
  • 21 See, for instance, “Education of Indians,” “Mothers in Council,” and “A New Method of Indian Educat (...)

24As Ruth Alexander has noted, the middle decades of Elaine Goodale Eastman’s writing career were then dedicated, primarily, to collaborative work with her husband19. My own analysis of the Eastmans’ complex co-authorship has emphasized that, at the outset of the marriage, Elaine still held greater celebrity author status, based on her years of poetry-publishing and her journalism recounting experiences as a white woman educator of, and expert on, Dakota people20. Though Charles would later claim a highly visible role as interlocutor on Native experience, in the first years of their marriage, Elaine remained the more prolific writer addressing Indian issues in a range of periodicals—to earn money for her growing family, to exercise continued advocacy, and, we can speculate, to maintain a professional authorial identity21.

  • 22 On ideological agendas and political goals linking the Dawes Act’s extension (via the Territorial G (...)

25More than most White writers of her day, Goodale considered Indian-U.S. issues in what, now, we would term a transnational context, in recognition of the numerous distinct Indian nations still attempting their sovereignty politically. For example, she demonstrated this awareness in one of her numerous “Letter from Washington” columns for the New York Evangelist, published in January 1898. Addressing questions about Indian land in connection with the legacy of the Dawes Commission, which sought to convince five tribal nations to adopt a policy of creating individual allotments22, she reminded her readers that numerous treaties formulated had guaranteed individual tribes their rights as sovereign nations, and she described particular efforts by the Choctaws, Cherokee, and Seneca to continue asserting their nationhood. In terms both of its content (espousing a transnational perspective for U.S.-Indians relations) and its rhetoric (employing a well-crafted progression of illustrations from history and from current events), such specific texts from Goodale’s journalism deserve credit for their efforts to promote cross-cultural understanding and Native rights in an era of increasingly imperialistic U.S. politics. Yet, despite her repeated efforts to advocate for Indian sovereignty far beyond most other White leaders then, Goodale Eastman’s turn-of-the-century writing continued to campaign for assimilationist education based in racial hierarchy. Thus, evaluating her many publications addressing the “Indian problem,” both before and after her cross-cultural marriage, requires an intersectional analysis critiquing how her views were constrained by her race and social class standpoints, including her New England background, even after becoming the mother of mixed-race children.

  • 23 Carol Clark rates the shared writing of this period “successful,” judging that they “produced works (...)

26Assessing this period of her authorship also entails acknowledging a cross-race, cross-gender dynamic around co-authorship, as I have outlined in more detail elsewhere23. Much of her writing energy was, for several decades, supporting her husband’s story-telling, which clearly held a more race-based epistemic authority than her own. Retrospectively in The Voice at Eve, Elaine would reflect: “for many a year every early dream and ambition was wholly subordinated to the business of helping my talented husband express himself and interpret his people. Whether or not this was wise, is perhaps an open question. Obviously, it was far from modern” (The Voice at Eve 30).

27The Eastmans’ collaborative publications included Charles’s multiple memoirs: Old Indian Days (1907), The Soul of an Indian (1911) and From the Deep Woods to Civilization (1916). Although these texts appeared under his name, Elaine indicated in The Voice at Eve that she “carefully edited” his narratives and arranged for their initial publication in St. Nicholas magazine (which had been one of the earliest welcoming venues for her youthful poetry), thereby setting the stage for his books. Furthermore, she cited her management of his authorial “correspondence and publicity,” including national and international lectures numbering “twenty-five or more” per year, as a demanding responsibility which, while leaving her “house-bound” with the children, enabled him to travel extensively, “even to London” (The Voice at Eve 30). So, she asserted in retrospect, Charles’s transnational celebrity was grounded in—or, at the least enabled by—his wife’s authorial skill.

  • 24 Elaine elaborates in this section of her Voice memoir that the family finances became even more str (...)
  • 25 See, in this regard, a brief review of Yellow Star in Book Review Digest, which describes the novel (...)

28Two of the books on Indian culture from this period did list her as co-author: Wigwam Evenings (1909) and Smoky Day’s Wigwam’s Evenings (1910). These and other texts for which she was listed as sole author would today be classified as children’s literature, though at the time such narratives were typically cast as family reading. Elaine herself would ultimately downplay the books that she produced under her name alone during the Eastmans’ married years together. Her The Voice at Eve retrospective would classify such texts—Little Brother o’Dreams (1910), Yellow Star: A Story of East and West (1911), Indian Legends Retold (1919) and The Luck of Old Acres (1928)—as mere “pot-boilers,” meant to support the growing family’s income (31)24. And reviews from the time of their publication also tended to pigeon-hole them as children’s literature with a pedagogical bent, a genre then gradually being marginalized, consistent with literary modernism’s growing emphasis on high-culture art for art’s sake over didactic writing25.

  • 26 Examples of Goodale Eastman’s post-marriage magazine poetry include “Remembrance” (1907); “This is (...)
  • 27 Jayne Marek’s Women Editing Modernism has advocated for the centrality of women’s editing in the mo (...)

29If Goodale Eastman found her own writing situation constraining and frustrating, she seems, however reluctantly, to have accepted the need to write for money as a gendered responsibility consistent with a heritage we associate with authors like Fanny Fern and Harriet Beecher Stowe from the previous century. Perhaps her occasional forays back into magazine poetry offered some comfort then and deserve more attention now26. And recent scholarship on the important role of editors in the production of modernist literature should remind us not to discount her behind-the-scenes work on narratives attributed solely to Charles27.

  • 28 Unlike most assessments cited in note 25, one early evaluations of Yellow Star singled out this chi (...)

30Of the book-length texts Goodale Eastman brought out herself during this period, at least one may yet merit reassessment in the now-better-regarded field of children’s literature and childhood studies: Yellow Star (1911)28. Reminiscent of Lucy M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables (1908) and similar to Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden, also published in 1911, Yellow Star depicts the challenging growing-up experiences of its heroine in a cross-cultural situation. Potential points for comparative modernism-oriented study of Burnett’s text and Goodale Eastman’s include the role of illustrations in enhancing the narratives’ respective aesthetics, with Yellow Star’s painterly images from Angel de Cora as worthy of visual rhetoric analysis as those in the British and American editions of Burnett’s book. Furthermore, the challenges Anne faces in Montgomery’s much-adapted story through being transplanted to a small, unfamiliar rural community anticipate Yellow Star’s experiences in Goodale Eastman’s tale, with the latter heroine’s situation exacerbated by clashes between her Native identity and New England village social practices—and prejudices. Studying all three books’ connections to cross-cultural modernism would, in addition, situate each young protagonist—and her author—in a transnational context, including, for Yellow Star and Goodale Eastman, imagining an America that includes distinct tribal communities versus a narrow vision of “Americanness” grounded in provincial New England.

A writing room of her own

  • 29 Helen Bannan attributes the separation to “financial tension, editorial resentment [presumably East (...)

31In 1921, after almost thirty years of marriage, the Eastmans separated, with charges of Charles’s infidelity apparently only one cause behind a split which, though they never divorced, led the two to live apart for the remainder of their lives29. Charles, who moved to Michigan and, later, to a cabin in Canada, passed away in 1939. Elaine remained in New England, gradually reasserting her creative voice.

  • 30 A more complete treatment of Goodale Eastman’s autobiographical writings would include Sister to th (...)
  • 31 Voice was published by The Bookfellows firm of Chicago as a limited-edition book, with Elaine hand- (...)

32Read together or individually, The Voice at Eve (1930) and Hundred Maples (1935) reflect Goodale Eastman’s desire to reclaim the artistic prominence she had achieved in youth. Neither of these texts has so far broken into the growing roster of women’s writings touted as “new modernist,” but each deserves attention in that framework30. The first, The Voice at Eve, combines a prose memoir of authorship (“All the Days of My Life”) with a collection of poetry which Goodale Eastman describes as “scattered verses now at last bound between covers” after having “appeared in the magazines over a stretch of more than half a century” (32)31. The 33-page autobiography starts by recalling her first poetic triumphs and her time teaching (and writing) in the Dakotas. But Goodale Eastman devotes most of this narrative to revisiting the gendered challenges she faced as an author after her marriage. Hundred Maples, a novel Ruth Alexander has called her “most mature” (“Failure” 98), is set primarily in rural New England at the turn between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and, like “All the Days,” portrays a woman writer struggling to succeed despite constraints linked mainly to gender but including factors such as living in an isolated community whose rigid social traditions limit opportunities for all its residents.

33While long-held ideas about literary modernism used to discourage analyses of authors’ autobiographical texts due to a perceived need to separate art and artist, studies of modernist life-writing such as Max Saunders’s magisterial Self Impression, Maria Battista and Emily Wittman’s Modernism and Autobiography, and Claire Battershill’s Modernist Lives: Biography and Autobiography have made the case that modernist studies stand to gain by bringing life-writing into the field’s expanding fold. Thus, in his introduction to a 2013 issue of Modern Fiction Studies on life narratives, John Paul Riquelme observed that “the boundaries between fictional and nonfictional life narratives are crossed significantly in major modernist works” such as Virginia Woolf’s 1928 Orlando: A Biography, James Joyce’s 1916 A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and Gertrude Stein’s 1933 The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (Riquelme 462, 463).

34Following Riquelme’s lead, if we set Hundred Maples in dialogue with the “All the Days of My Life” portion of The Voice at Eve, while also noting the implicit autobiographical moves in Goodale Eastman’s construction of her final poetry collection in the second half of Voice, we see how they form a modernist experiment blurring lines across several life-writing forms: memoir, life-based poetry, and autobiography-inflected novel. As a yoked trio of creative texts, they ask a question that had been troubling Goodale Eastman for decades: how, given the gender-based limitations she faced in daily life, could she claim the role of author?

35My essay has already woven in several references to Goodale Eastman’s Voice at Eve’s recollections on her authorial life—including its frustrations. Here, rather than offering a more detailed summary, let me zero in on its closing paragraphs. In these comments, Goodale Eastman pivots away from reflecting on her prose publishing, the journalistic “propaganda” produced “with serious educational purpose rather than [as] literature” (The Voice at Eve 25), the tiresome editing of Charles’s writings, and the juvenile “pot-boilers” (31) which she had revisited in her retrospective narrative, though mainly to discount them. She announces a return to poetry, (re)dedicating herself to this genre. She shares her son’s assessment that, rather than “deserting literature for life,” as her account of prior limits on her authorship seemed to indicate, she has “’always been a poet, […] whether [she] put the words on paper or not’” (31). Reaffirming that claim, she declares: “As a romantic child of fifteen, I promised myself to ‘sing along the way.’ And I have kept my word after a fashion,” continuing to produce occasional lyrics, however “broken-winged” their flight into occasional magazine spaces (32).

36Then, philosophically and artistically, she reasserts her commitment to poetry—the primary modernist genre—by ending the memoir with a reaffirmation of that form’s blending of craft, meaning and value:

I hold that a poem is no trifle of ornament, but a structural reality. It is a drop of the concentrated essence of living. A conception that is held with a certain degree and quality of emotional intensity takes form, as it were, spontaneously—crystallizes in verse as naturally as a snow-flake explodes in a miniature marvel of starts within stars. Symmetry it must have—yes, and clearness—even as those ethereal frost-flowers miraculously a-bloom in wintry skies. Ideally, it should leap to the eye with the crispness of an etching—ravish the ear with a chime of invisible bells. However imperfect, it can not fail to reveal in the measure those deep inner compulsions which transcend all outward happenings whatsoever. (32-33)

37Even if the individual poems that follow in the collection rarely meet these standards, we should recognize that Goodale Eastman’s own vision of poetry here goes far beyond the concept of “charming lyrics” often invoked to praise the publications of her youth. Indeed, this anthology excludes her earliest lyrics to present, instead, three collections of roughly equal length: “Songs of Nature and the Red Man,” “Maid’s Troth and Mother-Soul,” and “Out of the Deep.” Suggesting a loose chronology tied to stages of her adult life, this sequencing frames a central section on womanly domestic life (where the traditional rhyme and meter resonate with her subject matter) with the two outer clusters examining broader landscapes and more public concerns. Thus, in organizational design, Goodale Eastman’s poetic triptych offers up a prelude for her forthcoming novel, where she will again examine the topic of woman’s authorship in both a domestic and a public context.

  • 32 A May 11, 1935, brief mention of the forthcoming novel in the New York Times implicitly connected i (...)
  • 33 Martha H. Patterson’s introduction to The American New Woman Revisited explains the evolution of th (...)

38If The Voice at Eve represented Goodale Eastman’s final attempt to present herself to readers as a poet committed to modernist-oriented craft, then Hundred Maples must stand as the most explicitly modernist of her prose publications. Having invoked her son’s assertion of her artistic identity in The Voice at Eve’s introductory memoir, she named him as her primary audience for Hundred Maples in a dedication “to my son: for his better understanding of woman’s world.” But she also wrote, more openly here than in any of her other publications, for other women seeking a room of their own for authorship in the face of gender boundaries32. Though she never quotes Virginia Woolf directly in Hundred Maples, she seems to nod to her British counterpart while also re-imagining some elements of her own life. Relatedly, the novel also presents her most direct questioning of how a “New Woman” model33 could operate as a lived experience within social structures still limiting women’s options—both for her own aging generation and, implicitly, for her daughters. Along those lines, while the stifling marriage she allots to her main character, Ellen, clearly cuts her protagonist off from the liberated ideal that had emerged for some middle-class women in the Progressive Era, Goodale Eastman also depicts debilitating gendered tensions even in the initially more wife-enabling union of a major foil character, Amy. Caught in infidelity that echoes the charge against Charles Eastman, Amy’s previously supportive spouse goes on the attack: “See here, Amy, […] for years you’ve been trying to run my business and me. You’re one of these smart, ‘new’ women—that’s the whole darn trouble” (Hundred Maples 219).

  • 34 Born within three years of each other, Addams and Goodale Eastman could generate a worthwhile compa (...)

39Overall, in fact, if Ellen’s two close friends who choose different personal pathways (conceivably thereby representing additional alter egos for Elaine) demonstrate the apparently inescapable lot still denying women their full potential, it is certainly Ellen who most directly embodies Goodale Eastman’s own life as frustrated artist. Ellen grows up, like Elaine, in rural New England. Although the early loss of her father leaves the young heroine emotionally desolated, with the girl and her mother under extreme financial pressures, Ellen manages to acquire a college education—something Elaine was denied based on her own family’s financial constraints. Yet, Ellen foregoes multiple exciting career opportunities when she instead marries Bart, a young local farmer she has known all her life. Bart is ever-faithful to his family’s region-tied heritage and to his vision of what Ellen should be. Giving herself up to what Jane Addams famously cast as the “family claim” in her Twenty Years at Hull-House memoir (Addams 119)34, Ellen spends years as Bart’s traditional helpmate, bearing and caring for children, trapped in the drudgery of isolated domestic life—that is, enduring the role Elaine had often described as her lot throughout her marriage.

40In a pivotal middle phase of the narrative, though, Ellen diverts from this path. Literally and figuratively, she moves into a room of her own to write, with support from her mother. That patient mother figure, readers and Ellen eventually learn, was even more long-suffering than she had shown her daughter over the years. Poignantly characterized at one point as the “woman who had been Sarah Marshall,” she would, in the end, always be “humping [her] shoulders, bowing [her] head, and taking what came” (The Voice at Eve 125). After the birth of a third child, Ellen infuriates her usually quiet husband by insisting they sleep in separate bedrooms, offering up a range of reasons from wanting to avoid more children to her night wakefulness and a related wish not to disturb him (125). For Bart, these excuses are false; it is her newly-forged commitment to writing that is pulling her away, he is convinced: “I suppose you’d rather write your books,” he declares, more on the mark than Ellen will admit (115, emphasis in original).

  • 35 Though Ellen’s frustrating conversation with the leader of her local school board may seem unrelate (...)

41She has, in fact, returned her most intensely felt personal energies to her youthful love of writing. She tells herself, initially, that she only wants to provide extra financial support for her family. She blames the local school board’s refusal to consider her application for a teaching position, for which she is qualified by virtue of the college degree but ineligible given her married status35. Actually, though, as soon as she has scraped together funds for a typewriter and begun to envision stories grounded in local life, Ellen’s stifled sense of self embraces authorship’s affirming possibilities:

Tediously, joyfully, she beat out her glowing lines with three fingers. Her afternoons she gave willingly to sewing, baking, playing with [baby] Marty. She made a point of meeting the little boys with welcoming smiles, when they came eagerly or laggingly home from school, and of helping them with homework as needed. She tried faithfully to be considerate of her mother, attentive to her husband, and never late to meals! But her mornings were sacred to "The Book" as ever a conscientious minister's to the weekly sermon! […] It was toil that left her with aching wrists and numb limbs and burning forehead, but it was triumphant toil. How long had these old tales lain buried, waiting to be told as she could tell them—how long?. (The Voice at Eve 113)

42Whether the punishment meted out for this protagonist embodies a kind of self-directed lesson, or merely metaphorically conveys her sense of what would confront a rural married woman of her generation attempting to close a door—even for part of a day—to make a writing room of her own, the price Ellen pays is extreme. A beloved child, unsupervised while she is pecking away at the typewriter, drowns. That she thought young Tommy was with his father provides no excuse in her own mind or in the reaction of others to the family’s loss.

43Anita Moffett reviewed Hundred Maples for the New York Times soon after the novel’s release. Moffett’s plot summary acknowledges the narrative’s compelling account “of the rebellion felt by the farm-dwelling woman, and more especially of the woman with talent of some sort, who found its expression doubly stifled by the isolation of her life and the surrender to duty expected of her” (“The Farmer’s Wife”). For this reviewer, interestingly, the novel should also be read in the context of both the shift from rural to urban that had been developing across America for some time, and generational differences. “In an earlier day,” Moffett suggests,

[s]uch women [as Ellen] could only suffer in silence; during the Eighties and Nineties, the period in which this study is laid, rebellion was beginning to take active shape, strengthened by education, the knowledge of wider opportunity outside, the increasing poverty and rigor of farm life, and a slowly changing public opinion which began to uphold the right of each generation to its own life. (“The Farmer’s Wife”)

44Notable in this review is Moffett’s assessment of Ellen’s “gift for creative writing” as “slight,” if “authentic,” an evaluation not offered in the text itself. Notable too is Moffett’s articulation, but also her rejection, of a central theme in the narrative. She declares: the “book is a thoughtful study of the problem that confronted such women as Ellen at the turn of the century—one so acute to the author that she thinks of it as a woman’s problem alone.” But Moffett herself asserts: “Many a man has found himself trapped by circumstances or environment in which another may find fulfillment,” so that “frustration, the attempt to free talent from hampering circumstances, is universal” (“The Farmer’s Wife”). Though the review ultimately judges the text “light in substance,” it does praise Hundred Maples for serving up an “authentic […] picture of the New England of the Eighties and Nineties,” and, in an echo (purposeful or ironic, who can say?) of the earliest assessments of Elaine Goodale’s first writings, dubs her descriptions as often “marked by much charm,” and “especially effective as seen through a child’s eyes,” presumably during the text’s first scenes.

45Perhaps, to appreciate Goodale Eastman’s artistry here, however uneven it may be, however clouded by her own anger-inducing personal experiences, we need to turn to a parallel text. Although radically different in tone from Gertrude Stein’s own highly personal account of authorship in The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, Hundred Maples is illuminated in intriguing ways when we set these two texts in dialogue. One playfully cosmopolitan, the other reflectively, if ambivalently, returning to rural roots, they both depend on a veiling of the central authorial figure’s identity which simultaneously reminds readers that close personal relationships and social expectations shape authorship. In foregrounding such a theme, both writers also invite their readers to question modernism’s supposed focus on the aesthetic text as independent of a writer’s lived experience and society’s gendered norms.

A reviewer’s straightforward voice

46Between her flurry of publications in the 1930s and her death in 1953, Goodale Eastman’s print presence diminished, perhaps understandably given her age. One interesting body of work, a series book reviews, is retrievable from the New York Times archive. As a group, these reviews aimed primarily to assess Native-focused books on the basis of their accuracy, from her perspective, rather than their artistry. In a 1945 overview of Burbank Among the Indians (1944) for instance, she cast the writer’s “best chapters” (on “the desert folks of the great Southwest”) as praiseworthy for being based in direct contacts such as visiting with Geronimo and “gaining access to the kiva, or sacred cave” at a Pueblo setting. Her criticism of Burbank’s portrayal of Sitting Bull cited its over-dependence on an 1875 photograph rather than any lack of literary skill (“Indians at Home” 107). Similarly, her 1946 review of Warriors without Weapons, lauded this “second of five projected volumes” of research-based writing for effectively chronicling the “broad effects of total defeat in war and the impact of technologically superior civilization upon a tribe of typical Plains Indians” (“Indians or Citizens?” 134). Transitioning from positive descriptions of the book’s content to sharing her own opinions about the current situation of the Sioux (“in no sense inferior” to “their ‘white’ neighbors,” yet unable to make “a living on the land”), she closed by advocating for “passage of the ‘Indian Emancipation Act’ offered by Mr. Case of South Dakota and now under consideration in the Congress” (“Indians or Citizens?” 134).

47Although most of Goodale’s New York Times reviews assessed books on Native culture, one stood out for signaling her lifelong identification with her home region of New England, and for extending beyond straightforward reporting on content. Her 1943 assessment of The Journal of Zadoc Long began by encapsulating Pierce Long’s life, as depicted in the book. But she ended her piece by praising Long’s “introduction to his grandfather’s journal” as “engagingly done,” and averred that “the whole book smacks of the soil.” Suggesting a ready audience among both “collectors of Americana” and readers who were “engrained New Englanders,” Goodale Eastman linked herself, again, to her own regional homeland, as a curator of history and traditional values (“A New England Diary”).

48Such a modest self-positioning anticipated the contained space of authorship where, just after her death, an obituary (quoted in the epigraph to this essay) in that same New York Times venue would situate her contributions, outside of literary eminence, referring to her co-authored childhood book of poems and passing quickly over the “several books on Indian life” as the sum total of her literary output. Summing up over eight decades of writing in three sparse sentences, this obituary set the stage for authorial marginalization. But the story did so via value systems setting boundaries around high-culture literary production to demean texts by and for children, discount the contributions of journalism, and sideline educationally oriented writings, whatever their richness as records of cultural diversity. Additionally, while tying her to a home address in a small New England town, still widow to a long-dead spouse, this obituary confined her identity to a domestic geography undercutting the wide reach of her writings even before naming any of them. To rescue Goodale Eastman and other American women writers from such dismissive, overgeneralized judgments, whether in the decades viewed as “modernist” or in any era, we must continue to raise questions about complex contingencies of value themselves and about how individual authorial identities are caught up in those constraining processes. On the proverbial flip side, we can ask what we gain, as readers of literature, from more nuanced systems of cultural assessment—resisting restrictive gender roles, acknowledging intercultural borderlands.

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1 In his “Afterword,” Schedler posits that the White/Other pairings of his core chapters could be viewed as having set up a false dichotomy, since “each work is itself integrative, a hybrid and intercultural construction” placed in linguistic and literary intersections. For Schedler, all border modernists’ writing seeks mediation “between self and ‘other’” in different ways than “metropolitan” modernists do (Schedler 132). Here, I’ve focused on just one side of a pair of authors—Elaine and Charles Eastman. Other scholars (Calcaterra; Coskan-Johnson) have read Charles’s authorship in terms both similar to and different from Schedler’s. I suspect that a thorough revisiting of Eastman’s writing career could make a case for situating his work, too, in a dialogue with recent scholarship on literary modernism.

2 See Ann Ardis’s “Introduction,” where she calls for “challeng[ing] classic modernist ‘narratives of rupture’ separating high from low culture and the Victorian from the ‘modern’ period” (Ardis 4).

3 See William Spengemann’s preface to Three American Poets, where he presents Whitman, Dickinson, and Melville as early modernist writers: “Verbally active, necessarily unconventional, and highly personal […], the idiosyncratic verse of Whitman, Dickinson, and Melville can be thought of as proto-modernist, far more typical of poetry written after, say, 1918 than that written by their contemporaries” (Spengemann xiii).

4 Bennett’s, Poets in the Public Sphere is augmented by her edited anthology, Nineteenth-Century American Women Poets, which includes several poems by young Dora Goodale and lyrics from Dora’s late-career Mountain Dooryards, as well as poems by Elaine (Bennett 346-350).

5 In their introduction, the editors critique work that follows rigid periodization and advocate for a modernist studies that recognizes “numerous, diverse and contesting, theories and practices which first flourished” ahead of formal visions for the term. Positing that the “homogenization” of “Modernism as a movement and a critical category” can be traced to 1950s’ cultural studies à la Raymond Williams (Kolocotroni et al.: xvii), these scholars call for a broader perspective, including beginning with mid-nineteenth century writers both “revolutionary,” such as Marx, and “simply transitional” (xviii, xix), which is how I would position Goodale and her early poetry.

6 For example, see Goodale’s “Ashes of Roses,” which appeared in St. Nicholas (109), The Literary World (113) and Saturday Evening Post (8) magazines in December of 1877. This oft-reprinted ten-line poem, with its shifts from regular rhyme and meter and its use of nature to convey an affect-oriented theme, anticipates the poetry of Emily Dickinson. As Goodale would note in her 1930 The Voice at Eve memoir, “Ashes of Roses” was then “still widely sung” those many decades later, courtesy of a popular musical adaptation of the poem (The Voice at Eve 20). See Mary Knight Wood’s 1892 sheet music, published along with Elaine’s lyrics.

7 In Cultures of Modernism, Cristanne Miller posits that “national and local structures” of “location significantly inflected modernist women’s performances of subjectivity, gender, race, and religion in their texts and in their lives by making different subject categories available to them and enabling or preventing particular modes of expression” (Miller 2). In Goodale Eastman’s case, the interplay of personal and social structures during this stage of her life was more enabling than we might expect for a child-writer; in contrast, at later periods, the literal location where she lived, along with the type of identity factors Miller references, were a mix of constraining and empowering.

8 Which included a collection by Percy Bisshe Shelley, an anthology of writings by John Ruskin, Jules Verne’s Dick Sands, Boy Captain, and a newly-illustrated British edition of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

9 For another enthusiastic review of Apple Blossoms casting both girl-authors as having “the vision and faculty of true poetry,” see “Literature” in The Advance (828). This review adds language navigating a fluid space between valuing poetic sentiment and conventions of the day and affirming a modernist-anticipating attention to mature, high-art craft: “Their observations of nature are singularly acute and accurate: their sense of nature’s beauties and meanings and of the ‘pre-established harmonies’ between the Seen and the Unseen is exquisite, wholesome, sincere; and their easy mastery of apt and poetic expression is everywhere manifest” (“Literature” 828).

10 See also the blend of gorgeous color illustrations (by Alexander Pope) and poetry (by Goodale) in The Coming of the Birds (1883).

11 See Alexander 1992 and Eick. Reflecting back in 1930’s The Voice at Eve on her time teaching at Hampton and her subsequent move to Dakota Territory, Goodale Eastman observed: “I sometimes wonder that no effort was made to launch me upon the journalistic or purely literary career for which I had shown most fitness and which would seem to offer so much more of congenial association and tangible reward than the obscure and ill-paid pioneer work which I, in fact, undertook at this point” (The Voice at Eve 23-24).

12 Hampton originally served only African American students, but Indians began attending after General Richard Henry Pratt brought a number of prisoners from Fort Marion to Hampton in 1878, soon thereafter opening his own school at Carlisle. Though Goodale Eastman and others repeatedly extoled Carlisle (both in journalism features and in her 1930s’ biography, Pratt: The Red Man’s Moses), the school and Pratt have rightly come under intense criticism from historians of Native children’s education during this era. Already in 1900, they were cast in a highly negative light by Zitkala-Ša in her three-part 1900 memoir for Atlantic Monthly (Vol. 85) where she describes her discomfort as a Native teacher there.

13 In this essay, I tend to use “Native” and “Native American” when speaking from our contemporary perspective; I use “Indian” when invoking the language of Goodale Eastman’s lifetime, while recognizing that some recent Native-made choices for self-designation also use “Indian,” as in scholars’ referencing “Indian country” or the naming of the National Museum of the American Indian.

14 As editor Kay Graber explains in her “Foreword” for Sister to the Sioux, the narrative long existed only as a typed manuscript held first by family members and much later made available for book publication in 1978 (Eastman 2004: xx-xxi).

15 That alternatives in line with today’s ideals of inclusivity and diversity were hardly considered is a reminder of our nation’s many failures. For detailed discussion of these debates over Native American education and assimilationist boarding schools, as well as longstanding critiques of this oppressive program, see chapters 4 and 5 of my Learning Legacies (Robbins 2017).

16 See my discussion of Goodale Eastman’s complicated stance on Native education in Learning Legacies, Chapter 4 (Robbins 2017), and in “The Indian Problem” (Robbins 2015). The Voice at Eve memoir did describe her pride at having learned the Dakota language “correctly enough to be occasionally mistaken for a native when traveling with Indians” and celebrated, as well, her experiences as “enlarging my understanding of human nature in the raw, and developing a point of view that has been of value to me all my days” (The Voice at Eve 25). An even more affirming view of Goodale’s time in Dakota Territory and her interactions with Native peoples there emerges in Sister to the Sioux.

17 One productive path for studying Goodale’s writing from this period would situate it in a comparative context with other crusading prose writers like Ida Tarbell and Ida B. Wells-Barnett.

18 In “Building a National Literature,” Robert A. Gross points to the growing power of a few publishing houses (including James T. Fields, Appleton, Putnam, Scribners), in the late nineteenth century, as arbiters of what counted as “literature,” particularly in the increasingly important sense of high-art aesthetics. The book (versus the periodical, excepting a few national magazines like Atlantic, Harper’s, Scribner’s, and Century) became the publication site for authors who wanted to join “a canon of the nation’s major writers,” which, Gross emphasizes, was more and more restricted to “a coterie of New England males” viewed “as a rare breed of artists creating superior works of the imagination that truly deserved recognition as ‘literature.’” And certain types of books were more venerated than others: “Set apart from ordinary books by their elegant format and gathered into standard editions a distinguished series,” a few “masterpieces” were dubbed literary “‛classics’” (Gross 326). Looking back on Elaine and Dora’s writing within this framework, Eastman 1930 memoir’s description of their poetry books is noteworthy, since she identifies Apple Blossoms as published “under the Putnam imprint,” with later editions “handsomely bound as a gift book” (20).

19 See Alexander 1988. Alexander argues that Goodale Eastman became “Writer as Helpmate,” employing “her literary talent to support her husband’s career and to improve the ever-precarious family finances” (Alexander 93).

20 In “The ‘Indian Problem,’” I focus on texts published through Elaine’s and Charles’s collaborations, and I analyze the impact this challenging co-authorship had on their marriage. See, for example, 197.

21 See, for instance, “Education of Indians,” “Mothers in Council,” and “A New Method of Indian Education.”

22 On ideological agendas and political goals linking the Dawes Act’s extension (via the Territorial Governance Act) to the Five Civilized Tribes, as well as ways that assimilationist education programs both supported and were supported by the allotment program as it undercut Native commitments to community ownership, see Beadie, “War.” In quoting from Section 5 of the 1890 follow-up to the original Dawes Act (which “did not apply to the Five Civilized Tribes”), Beadie indirectly references those tribes’ continued assertion of nationhood by citing the Act’s language indicating that “any member of any Indian tribe or nation residing in the Indian Territory may apply to the United States court therein to become a citizen of the United States” (emphasis mine), provided they accept an allotment of individual land taken from communal tribal land. As Beadie points out, this process undermined Native nations’ sovereignty both in terms of individual citizenship and in terms of shared tribal governance (Beadie 70).

23 Carol Clark rates the shared writing of this period “successful,” judging that they “produced works of a public popularity that neither could produce separately.” However, she also notes that their authorial “team did not survive deep fissures of gender and cultural difference that their collaboration had at first bridged,” and she attributes part of their difficulty to Charles’s having to navigate two identities, Native and assimilated (Clark 271)

24 Elaine elaborates in this section of her Voice memoir that the family finances became even more strained as her six children grew older and the Eastmans faced “the need of carrying forward their education beyond high school.” She acknowledges Charles’s “varied activities [lecturing as well as publishing] and growing reputation,” but also suggests most of the work of running a summer camp they launched in New Hampshire –yet another effort to expand their financial base—fell upon her (The Voice at Eve 31).

25 See, in this regard, a brief review of Yellow Star in Book Review Digest, which describes the novel as “mainly for girls,” and praiseworthy primarily for engagingly depicting “Yellow Star’s experiences in becoming established as a recognized figure among the girls of a New England village.” Ignoring the narrative’s advocacy of Indians as the best teachers of their children, and on the reservation rather than in boarding schools, this review instead lauds the protagonist’s “fine qualities that make the aboriginal stock a potent ingredient in the racial melting-pot” (“Eastman, Elaine Goodale. Yellow Star” 138). For a similar (if less racist) take, see the overview of the book in Eighty Tales, which more accurately describes the novel as the “Story of an Indian girl’s school days in a New England village where she lives with her adopted mother, and of her return to her people, the Dakotas, to live among and help them.” Though stopping short of attributing real artistry to the narrative, this review does cast Yellow Star herself as “spirited and sensitive” while suggesting that the “book may serve to broaden the interests of a reader of boarding school stories” (3).

26 Examples of Goodale Eastman’s post-marriage magazine poetry include “Remembrance” (1907); “This is the Day of the Child” (1908); “Halley’s Comet” (1910); and “The Cross and the Pagan” (1912). Most of these poems are set in the domestic sphere, but “The Cross and the Pagan” exhibits a modernist bitter irony while critiquing the christianization of Native peoples as a cynical process of suppression. The opening announces this bitter complaint: “As men in the forest, erect and free,/ We prayed to God in the living tree;/ You razed our shrine, to the wood-god’s loss,/ And out of the tree you fashioned a Cross!”

27 Jayne Marek’s Women Editing Modernism has advocated for the centrality of women’s editing in the modernist movement. More recently, Melissa Homestead has spotlighted “Willa Cather Editing.” And Matthew Lavin (“It’s Mr. Reynolds”) similarly spotlights the role of textual mediation like Goodale’s work to support Charles’s career. Lavin suggests that revisiting Cather’s editing/publishing support system underscores modernist “interactions between authors and intermediary professionals, including publisher, editors, and agents” (Lavin 175). One factor that has kept Goodale’s version of this literary labor under-examined is our failure, as of yet, to re-view Charles’s popular narratives through a modernist lens—a gap in modernist studies that Kirby Brown addresses in a broader context in “American Indian Modernities.”

28 Unlike most assessments cited in note 25, one early evaluations of Yellow Star singled out this children’s book on aesthetic as well as didactic terms. The Journal of Education’s review praised the illustrations by Angel De Cora and the novel itself as “a beautiful story” with adept characterizations. This review called Goodale Eastman “a favorite with readers, and whatever she writes is welcome, but nothing written heretofore will be as welcome as this,” due to its application of her “knowledge of Indian life” to create a tale “of an Indian girl, educated wisely, who after complete civilization goes back to her own people” (“Book Table: Yellow Star” 414).

29 Helen Bannan attributes the separation to “financial tension, editorial resentment [presumably Eastman’s], and her husband’s infidelity” (Bannan 5-6). Previously, Alexander had named the infidelity charge as only the “ostensible” cause of the breakup and reported that some sources refuted the accusation, including the related claim that a counselor at the Eastmans’ camp bore Charles’s child (97) Theodore Sargent’s 2005 biography of Elaine cited the affair and a similar accusation from earlier in their marriage; supporting this view, he referenced both Elaine’s memoir and a plot point in Hundred Maples, which he reads autobiographically (Sargent 107). Margaret Jacobs paints a nuanced portrait of the Eastmans’ marriage and its eventual dissolution in “The Eastmans and the Luhans,” where she situates their plight as representative of then-conflicting ideas about gender roles in the larger culture (Jacobs 37-42).

30 A more complete treatment of Goodale Eastman’s autobiographical writings would include Sister to the Sioux, first published in 1978 and reissued in 2004 with an introduction by Sargent. Though it presents a brief excerpt from “All the Days of My Life” as an epilogue, Sister to the Sioux, per its subtitle, focuses on the years when Elaine Goodale was teaching in the Dakotas. A richly complex narrative, Sister is excluded from close analysis here because it was not a part of Goodale Eastman’s public authorship during her lifetime.

31 Voice was published by The Bookfellows firm of Chicago as a limited-edition book, with Elaine hand-signing all 250 copies. David Haden has identified The Bookfellows as part elite literary society, part publication enterprise, “seemingly devoted to poetry, book collecting, and the publishing of its members.” Haden dates Bookfellows’ launch into publishing at 1919 under George Seymour’s leadership and suggests they brought out only “two or three books per year,” distributed nationally, but in the modernist tradition of little magazines, with small circulation.

32 A May 11, 1935, brief mention of the forthcoming novel in the New York Times implicitly connected it to conflicts associated with the rise of the “New Woman” and that figure’s moves to overturn old boundaries. Thus, a one-sentence description following announcement of its two-dollar price described “A novel about a woman who found ‘smothering forces’ in her New England environment’” (“Books Published Today” 15).

33 Martha H. Patterson’s introduction to The American New Woman Revisited explains the evolution of this vital figure from the 1890s to 1930, stressing that for white women, especially, the movement emphasized their “need to be economically independent and their right to be fulfilled as individuals, even as they stressed women’s duties to the race as mothers” (Patterson 9). The inherent tension in such a vision of self-fulfillment and maternal duty somehow operating smoothly together is a key theme of Goodale Eastman’s Hundred Maples.

34 Born within three years of each other, Addams and Goodale Eastman could generate a worthwhile comparative study. For instance, though both grew up in rural settings and idolized their fathers, Addams remained single (though with close female companions) and earned world-wide renown for heading up an urban social project, writing numerous bestsellers, and winning a Nobel prize; scholarship on Addams is booming, if not generally in a modernist context. In contrast, Eastman also earned acclaim for her writing and social activism early on, but she has been relegated to the sidelines of literary, women’s, and social histories.

35 Though Ellen’s frustrating conversation with the leader of her local school board may seem unrelated to Goodale Eastman’s main theme, here and in her portrayal of gender-based barriers Ellen’s two best friends encounter, Hundred Maples assaults American society’s continued limitations on women’s access to professional opportunities. For instance, one sub-plot enabled Goodale Eastman to critique married men’s ability to avoid consequences for extra-marital affairs versus the impact of such sexual violations on both the wife and the mistress.

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Sarah RUFFING ROBBINS, « Elaine Goodale Eastman, Modernist Author? Re-visiting a Border-crossing Woman Writer’s Place in Literary History », E-rea [En ligne], 16.2 | 2019, mis en ligne le 15 juin 2019, consulté le 29 octobre 2020. URL : ; DOI :

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Lorraine Sherley Professor of Literature, Texas Christian University
Sarah Ruffing Robbins is the Lorraine Sherley Professor of Literature at TCU. Her academic books include the 2017 monograph, Learning Legacies: Archive to Action through Women’s Cross-cultural Teaching; The Cambridge Introduction to Harriet Beecher Stowe and Managing Literacy, Mothering America, winner of a Choice Award. Current projects involve transatlantic partnerships supported by Edinburgh University Press, including co-editing a book series on American literature and a primary text anthology for teaching transatlantic culture.

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