Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Mary Weaks-Baxter  

Pen Name: None

Genre: History Non-Fiction

Audience: Adult;

Born: 1962

-- Mary Weaks-Baxter on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Professor Weaks-Baxter lives in Rosco, Illinois.

Biographical and Professional Information

Mary Weaks-Baxter is a Hazel Koch Professor of English at Rockford College and the president of Rockford College’s Phi Beta Kappa chapter.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Reclaiming the American Farmer: The Reinvention of a Regional Mythology in Twentieth-Century Southern Writing (Southern Literary Studies)
ISBN: 0807131296

LSU Press. 2006

In this stimulating study, Mary Weaks-Baxter views the Southern Renaissance, 1900--1960, from a fresh perspective. Many writers in the South began consciously to create new myths for the region at the start of the twentieth century, and these myths, Weaks-Baxter argues, reframed southern history and culture. Instead of being rooted in the plantation culture that had provided inspiration for nineteenth-century southern writers, the new literature was inspired by "southern folk," the common people who farmed the earth and whose values derived from Jeffersonian agrarianism and democracy. By glorifying the yeoman farmer -- a figure not only central to southern life but revered throughout the country -- southern writers confirmed the essential Americanness of southern literature and the southernness of American history, creating a viable myth that offered the promise of renewal and purpose.
To illustrate how the myth crossed racial, gender, and economic boundaries as well as geographic lines, Weaks-Baxter examines the work of diverse writers, including Willa Cather, Ellen Glasgow, Olive Dargan, Zora Neale Hurston, Jean Toomer, Jesse Stuart, Elizabeth Madox Roberts, Harriette Arnow, William Faulkner, and the Nashville Agrarians. Their portrayals of the lives of common men and women provided hope for all Americans as they were confronted with industrialization and the Great Depression. Weaks-Baxter shows how this agrarian fable led to a new Southern Renaissance in the late twentieth century, influencing the work of contemporary southern writers such as Madison Smartt Bell, Wendell Berry, Alice Walker, Dori Sanders, and Bobbie Ann Mason.
With lively arguments and keen insights, Reclaiming the American Farmer will change the terms of discussion about the Southern Renaissance and southern literature in general as it demonstrates how mythologies can unify southerners as well as divide them.

We Are a College at War: Women Working for Victory in World War II
ISBN: 0809329921

Southern Illinois University Press. 2010

We Are a College at War weaves together the World War II experiences of students and faculty at Rockford College in Rockford, Illinois, to provide readers with a better understanding of the role American women and college students played during this defining period in U.S. history. Drawing on the Rockford community’s letters, speeches, and campus newspaper archives, the authors demonstrate how women claimed the right to be everywhere—in factories and other traditionally male workplaces, and even on the front lines—and link their efforts to the rise of feminism and the fight for women’s rights in the 1960s and 1970s.

In analyzing how the war influenced women’s education, this fascinating study shows the then all-female student body of Rockford College concerned with the crises of the world and involved in volunteerism and political activities. The authors describe how college women supported the troops using the traditional feminine “culture of care” outside the home highlight the women who themselves joined the armed services and explain their reasons for choosing to enlist and investigate how the war affected courtship and marriage. A central theme is the legacy of humanitarian Jane Addams, an 1881 Rockford alumna who established Hull-House in Chicago and won the 1931 Nobel Prize for Peace. The authors show how Addams’s example inspired Rockford’s students during the dark days of a world war.

Faculty, staff, students, and alumnae of Rockford College participated in all aspects of the war and pushed this small midwestern college to become a commanding catalyst for change during this pivotal era. We Are a College at War reveals how the war years influenced women’s history in the twentieth century by offering a glimpse of the present-day roles of women through the legacy of the contributions of Rockford College women to the war effort.

Speaking Engagements

Speaking Engagement Availability (No)