Charlotte Perkins Gilman ; edited by Mary Jo Deegan and Michael R. Hill ; with an introduction by Mary Jo Deegan
Two works in one, this volume contains the full text of "With Her in Ourland" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, as well as an illuminating sociological analysis by Mary Jo Deegan with the assistance of Michael R. Hill. "Ourland" is the sequel to Gilman's acclaimed feminist utopian novel "Herland"; both were published in her journal, "The Forerunner," in 1915 and 1916. "Ourland" resumes the adventures of DEGREESIHerland DEGREESR's protagonists, Ellador and Van, but turns from utopian fantasy to a challenging analysis of contemporary social fissures in "his land," or the real world. The republication of "Herland" as a separate novel in 1979 revived critical interest in Gilman's work but truncated the larger aims implicit in the DEGREESIHerland/Ourland DEGREESR saga, leaving an erroneous understanding of Gilman's other/better half of the story, in which it is suggested that strong women can resocialize men to be nurturant and cooperative. Gilman's choice of a sexually integrated society in "With Her in Ourland" provides us with her answer to her ideal society, but her foray into a woman-only society as a corrective to a male dominated one is a controversial option. The challenging message of "Ourland," however, does not impede the pleasure of reading it as a novel. Though known more for her fiction today, Gilman in her time was a recognized and accomplished sociologist who admired Lester F. Ward and frequently visited Jane Addams of Chicago's Hull-House. The male protagonist in "Herland/Ourland," Van, is a sociologist, used by Gilman as a foil on which to skewer the assumptions and practices of patriarchal sociology. The interpretation presented here, which adopts a sociological viewpoint, is invaluable reading for scholars and students of sociology, American women's studies, and utopian literature.