Working Girls in the West
Representations of Wage-earning WomenBook - 2008
As the twentieth century got underway in Canada, young women who entered the paid workforce became the focus of intense public debate. Young wage-earning women -- "working girls" -- embodied all that was unnerving and unnatural about modern times: the disintegration of the family, the independence of women, and the unwholesomeness of city life. These anxieties were amplified in the West. Long after eastern Canada was considered settled and urbanized, the West continued to be represented as a frontier where the idea of the region as a society in the making added resonance to the idea of the working girl as social pioneer.
Using an innovative interpretive approach that centres on literary representation, Lindsey McMaster takes a fresh look at the working heroine of western Canadian literature alongside social documents and newspaper accounts of her real-life counterparts. Working Girls in the West heightens our understanding of a figure that fired the imagination of writers and observers at the turn of the last century.
McMaster (Nipissing U., Ontario, Canada) focuses on the literary depictions and characterizations of young wage-earning women in western Canada during a time of rapid industrialization and urbanization that spurred equally rapid social changes for both genders in Vancouver (the city is discussed with reference to the West as a whole). Young wage-earning women-- "working girls"--embodied a number of unnerving social and economic developments related to the arrival of modern times in western Canada. McMaster uses an innovative interpretive approach to compare the working-girl heroine of literature with social documents and newspaper accounts of her real-life counterparts, whose independence pitted the labor market against the social institution of marriage. Distributed by UTP Distribution. Annotation ©2008 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)