CUNY WriteSite


Ann setting up her main idea:
Dawn Powell's work have been ignored by most feminist critics. Why? Well, I guess it's because they didn't think her female characters were very noble or very nice or that her work had much to say about women's lives. But I think people should recognize that she is writing a very important story about women's changing relationship to public life. She's writing about women coming to big cities and making their way in the public world. That's actually pretty exciting. I mean, it was a big deal at the time.

There are a few important things missing from this draft. The reader has no idea who Dawn Powell is or when she lived or what kind of work she did.
Here's Ann adding necessary background material.

Described by Glenway Wescott as the only writer "doing for New York what Balzac did for Paris," Dawn Powell wrote thirteen novels between 1928 and 1962, almost all of which concern themselves with the dream of making it to — or making it in — New York City.

Over the years, Powell has been ignored by many feminist critics because they didn't think her female characters were very noble or very nice or that her work had much to say about women's lives. But I think more people should recognize that she is writing a very important story about women's changing relationship to public life. She's writing about women coming to big cities and making their way in the public world.

• Now, Ann wants to make the intro a bit more engaging. She's added a quotation to set up a contrast and polished the sentences a bit. Notice how she blends the background information and context into the middle of the introduction.

Here's Ann's final introduction.

In a 1962 essay on the writer Dawn Powell, Edmund Wilson tries to account for Powell's small readership and lack of serious critical attention. Her problem, it would appear, is that she doesn't appeal to the ladies. "She does nothing to stimulate feminine daydreams," Wilson writes. "The woman reader can find no comfort in identifying herself with Miss Powell's heroines" who are "as sordid and absurd as the men" and who engage in love scenes that will neither "rouse [nor] melt you" (526).

What I would claim, however, is that Powell does write a love story, but it's love for place rather than person. Described by Glenway Wescott as the only writer "doing for New York what Balzac did for Paris," Powell wrote thirteen novels between 1928 and 1962, almost all of which concern themselves with the dream of making it to — or making it in — New York City. Rather than the marriage plot, Powell offers an alternative narrative motivated by urban longing, a plot that replaces the anguished heroine in search of a husband with exiled Midwesterner in search of the book deal, the exhibition, the opening on Broadway. Whether it's the story of small town misfit desperate to get out, or of Greenwich Village nobody desperate to get in, these narratives of city-love stimulate a "feminine daydream" as rousing as any love scene.
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