What is a good story of a woman writer prescribed in a course on English (language) literature, for instance, by Willa Cather?

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Willa Cather lived in Nebraska when she was young, and much of her fiction is set there. She wrote in the first half of the twentieth century, but many of her stories and novels are set some forty to fifty years earlier, when many European pioneers and homesteaders were settling the Great Plains. Cather wrote dozens of stories, as she actually made a living writing for magazines, along with teaching for a time.

If you are interested in a more recent perspective from a woman writer located in the Plains, you might try Louise Erdrich, who had been writing about Native American and Euro-American life, primarily in the Dakotas, since the 1970s. Some of her stories are collected in The Red Convertible.

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If I understand your question correctly, Willa Cather’s My Antonia (1918) would be a good candidate for studying the mind and heart of an American writer.  This novel, while fiction, deals with the alienation of the heroine from her youth in Virginia to the Midwest, an experience shared with the young Willa Cather, at a time when women American writers were still establishing their unique contribution to American literature.  Set in the 1880’s, Antonia, age 8, moves with her family to Nebraska, as Willa did.  The novel is really a collection of short stories about Willa’s experiences up to the time when she began her career as a writer. Considered today as a fine early expression of female emancipation, feminity/sexuality, and social and historical commentary on the variations of life west of the Mississippi, it is both a quasi-autobiographical novel and a historical record of the late 19th century in America.

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