Whitson, Kathy J.
WHITSON, Kathy J.
PERSONAL: Female. Education: Southeast Missouri State University, B.S., M.A.; University of Missouri, Ph.D.
ADDRESSES: Office—Eureka College, Humanities Division, 300 East College Ave., Eureka, IL 61530.
CAREER: Eureka College, Eureka, IL, associate professor of English.
Native American Literatures: An Encyclopedia of Works, Characters, Authors, and Themes, ABC-Clio (Santa Barbara, CA), 1999.
Encyclopedia of Feminist Literature, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 2004.
Also contributor to scholarly journals, including book reviews for Studies in Short Fiction.
SIDELIGHTS: English professor and scholar Kathy J. Whitson is the author of Native American Literatures: An Encyclopedia of Works, Characters, Authors, and Themes. Discussing the broad scope of the work, Whitson commented that the phrase Native American encompasses "well over three hundred separate cultures [that] populat[ed] the continent at the time of the European conquest, each culture with its own language, history, religion, customs, and bodies of oral literature." Some limitations are inevitable, especially given the fact that many cultural traditions passed down stories only orally until fairly recently. In fact, as Lois Cherepon noted in Library Journal, "the focus is decidedly on the 20th-century works most studied in schools and colleges." The entries, including plot summaries, character biographies, and historical background, are designed to help high school and college students research individual works and gain a wider understanding of the larger forces that have shaped these stories. "The entries are not in-depth by any means, but they are well written and to the point," commented James J. McShane in the Reference & User Services Quarterly. There is also a comprehensive index and a substantial bibliography. As McShane concluded, "This volume would be valuable in most library collections, but should be owned by every reader interested in important works of literature." A Booklist reviewer noted that "the writing is outstanding, fluid, and dynamic. Whitson delves into the psyches of the authors and characters of the literature that is born of the diverse Native American experience. Her love and understanding of the works is evident."
Whitson is also the author of the Encyclopedia of Feminist Literature, another attempt to bring together a useful sampling of works, authors, and themes in a highly diverse area. She provides interpretive biographies of some seventy authors, analyses of their major works, and articles on larger issues, such as abolitionism and the suffrage movement, that have shaped feminist perspectives. Subjects range from the famous, such as Virginia Woolf and Toni Morrison, to the less well known, such as Judith Ortiz Cofer, but both authors and works hold honored places in the field of women's studies. As with Native American Literatures, the goal is twofold: to provide a useful means of researching specific books and writers and at the same time to help students place these in the larger context of the struggle for gender equality. Although Library Journal contributor Kathryn R. Bartelt felt that the themes of oppression against women and their struggle for equal rights should have been given more attention, the critic concluded: "Whitson succeeds in bringing together a great deal of information from a variety of sources" for both college and high school students and other interested readers.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Whitson, Kathy J., Native American Literatures: An Encyclopedia of Works, Characters, Authors, and Themes, ABC-Clio (Santa Barbara, CA), 1999.
Booklist, June 1, 1999, Lois Cherepon, review of Native American Literatures: An Encyclopedia of Works, Characters, Authors, and Themes, p. 1882.
Library Journal, July, 1999, Lois Cherepon, review of Native American Literatures, p. 84; January 1, 2005, Kathryn R. Bartelt, review of Encyclopedia of Feminist Literature, p. 158.
MBR Bookwatch, March, 2005, Diane C. Donovan, review of Encyclopedia of Feminist Literature.
Reference & Users Service Quarterly, spring, 2000, James J. McShane, review of Native American Literatures, p. 302.
Eureka College Web site, http://www.eureka.edu/ (May 17, 2005), "Kathy J. Whitson."