Susan Fenimore Cooper Criticism - Essay

Anna K. Cunningham (essay date July 1944)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Cunningham, Anna K. “Susan Fenimore Cooper—Child of Genius.” New York History 25 (July 1944): 339-50.

[In the following essay, Cunningham provides an overview of Cooper's writing career, attempting to explain her status as a minor figure in nineteenth-century American literature despite her considerable talent and early promise.]

In the summer of 1813 young James Cooper (the Fenimore was not formally added until an act of the New York State Legislature in 1826) drove with his wife and infant daughters, Elizabeth and Susan Augusta, from Mamaroneck up to Cooperstown, the settlement founded by his father, Judge William Cooper. James Cooper brought his little...

(The entire section is 3902 words.)

Lucy B. Maddox (essay date June 1988)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Maddox, Lucy B. “Susan Fenimore Cooper and the Plain Daughters of America.” American Quarterly 40, no. 2 (June 1988): 131-46.

[In the following essay, Maddox examines Cooper's relationship with her famous father and the way it informed her writings, particularly her novel, Elinor Wyllys, and her nature journal, Rural Hours.]

The story of the way James Fenimore Cooper began his career as a novelist has by now entered the folklore of American literature. Readers who first encounter Cooper in an anthology are likely to learn from the introduction that his first novel was written in response to his wife's challenge: to write something better and more...

(The entire section is 7649 words.)

Vera Norwood (essay date 1993)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Norwood, Vera. “Pleasures of the Country Life: Susan Fenimore Cooper and the Seasonal Tradition.” In Made from this Earth: American Women and Nature, pp. 25-53. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1993.

[In the following essay, Norwood discusses Cooper's entry into the male-dominated arena of nature writing, the specific gender issues she brought to the genre, and her continuing influence on women's nature writing well into the twentieth century.]

We are none of us very knowing about the birds in this country, unless it be those scientific gentlemen who have devoted their attention especially to such subjects. The same remark...

(The entire section is 15927 words.)

Rochelle Johnson (essay date 1999)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Johnson, Rochelle. “James Fenimore Cooper, Susan Fenimore Cooper, and the Work of History.” In James Fenimore Cooper: His Country and His Art, Papers from the 1999 Cooper Seminar (no. 12), edited by Hugh C. MacDougall, pp. 41-5. Oneonta, N.Y.: The State University of New York College at Oneonta, 1999.

[In the following excerpt, Johnson asserts that Susan Fenimore Cooper's writing reflects a desire to preserve the natural environment for its cultural and historical significance, while her father's works suggest an acquiescence to the necessary loss of landscape in the name of progress.]

In the Introduction to her 1853 edition of John Leonard Knapp's...

(The entire section is 3652 words.)

Rochelle Johnson (essay date 2000)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Johnson, Rochelle. “Walden, Rural Hours, and the Dilemma of Representation.” In Thoreau's Sense of Place: Essays in American Environmental Writing, edited by Richard J. Schneider, pp. 179-93. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2000.

[In the following essay, Johnson compares Cooper's nature journal with Thoreau's Walden, attempting to account for the very different response each received from American readers.]

Mere facts & names & dates communicate more than we suspect.

—Henry David Thoreau's Journal

When Barry Lopez, surely one of this century's...

(The entire section is 6553 words.)

Nina Baym (essay date 2001)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Baym, Nina. “Susan Fenimore Cooper and Ladies' Science.” In American Women of Letters and the Nineteenth-Century Sciences, pp. 73-90. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2001.

[In the following essay, Baym depicts Cooper's nature writing as a means to present to women readers a rural life that reflects an educated, class-conscious, progressive society.]

Susan Fenimore Cooper's Rural Hours (1850) showed how scientific knowledge contributed to an ideal of gracious country living for women.1 The book's anonymous publication “by a Lady”—at a time when anonymous authorship had gone out of style—quaintly made the point that the...

(The entire section is 9706 words.)

Richard M. Magee (essay date 2001)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Magee, Richard M. “Sentimental Ecology: Susan Fenimore Cooper's Rural Hours.” In Such News of the Land: U.S. Women Nature Writers, edited by Thomas S. Edwards and Elizabeth A. De Wolfe, pp. 27-36. Hanover, N.H.: University Press of New England, 2001.

[In the following essay, Magee examines Cooper's role as one of the earliest American nature writers, claiming that she combined elements of domestic fiction and natural history to create a sub-genre that Magee calls “sentimental ecology.”]

Susan Fenimore Cooper, the daughter of the famous novelist, was an early voice in the tradition of American nature writing, publishing her nature journal Rural...

(The entire section is 6735 words.)

Rochelle Johnson and Daniel Patterson (essay date 2001)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Johnson, Rochelle and Daniel Patterson. Introduction to Susan Fenimore Cooper: New Essays on Rural Hours and Other Works, edited by Rochelle Johnson and Daniel Patterson, pp. xi-xxvii. Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 2001.

[In the following excerpted introduction, Johnson and Patterson provide a detailed overview of Cooper's career, including a discussion of some of the author's more obscure works.]

It was the tremendous swell of interest in environmental writing that provided the conditions needed for a new edition of Susan Fenimore Cooper's Rural Hours in 1998.1 However, Cooper herself would not have missed the irony that our...

(The entire section is 7712 words.)

Duncan Faherty (essay date 2001)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Faherty, Duncan. “The Borderers of Civilization: Susan Fenimore Cooper's View of American Development.” In Susan Fenimore Cooper: New Essays on Rural Hours and Other Works, edited by Rochelle Johnson and Daniel Patterson, pp. 109-26. Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 2001.

[In the following essay, Faherty illustrates Cooper's advocacy of landscape and emerging New World culture as primary influences upon American architectural development through a discussion of Rural Hours and “A Dissolving View.”]

Within her best-known work, Rural Hours (1850), and in an important but long-neglected essay “A Dissolving View” (1852),...

(The entire section is 7098 words.)

Jessie Ravage (essay date 2001)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Ravage, Jessie. “In Response to the Women at Seneca Falls: Susan Fenimore Cooper and the Rightful Place of Woman in America.” In Susan Fenimore Cooper: New Essays on Rural Hours and Other Works, edited by Rochelle Johnson and Daniel Patterson, pp. 249-65. Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 2001.

[In the following essay, Ravage surveys Cooper's conservative response to the women's suffrage movement, detailing the subtle ways in which the author reinforces traditional female roles in Rural Hours.]

The July 14, 1848, number of the Seneca County Courier contained the following short announcement:


(The entire section is 6912 words.)