Joseph Dimuro is a continuing lecturer in the UCLA English department, where he teaches and writes about critical theory, the history and theory of the novel, queer studies, and American literature of the long nineteenth century. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and has taught at the University of Pennsylvania and Haverford College. A recipient of a Baird/Smithsonian Libraries Research Fellowship and a Newberry Library/Center for Great Lakes Culture Fellowship, he has edited and written introductions for two Henry Blake Fuller novels (Broadview), written a Gale Study Guide on Henry James and Psychological Realism, and contributed a chapter on Fuller’s literary career for Cambridge University Press’s recent Chicago: A Literary History, edited by Frederik Byrn Køhlert. His essays and reviews have appeared in the journals J19, Textual Cultures, ALH, and The Review of English Studies. He is completing a book entitled Ferris’s Wheel and the American National Sensorium, 1890-1910. His essay on Willa Cather is part of another book project on the distortions of capitalist value in the making of queer subjectivity in the literary culture of the American 1920s. He lives in Los Angeles.
Whenever she found that monied interests were shaping aesthetic taste in American culture, Willa Cather decried the deleterious effects their contrary values had on what she called genuine art. In interviews, essays, stories, and novels written throughout the opening decades of the twentieth century, Cather’s critique of consumerism, in particular, took on what John N. Swift calls a “protest against a pervasive materialist commodity culture” and led her to create characters that Guy J. Reynolds claims “embody Cather’s suspicion of the corrosive impact of acquisitiveness, allied to her wariness about how economic modernism [was] producing an increasingly consumerist society.”