Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Dr. Charles Johanningsmeier
Literary historians have often referred to Tillie Olsen's background as a Communist. This is not surprising, since her writings are overtly political, and she contributed a great deal to the Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA) in her younger days through her literature as well as through other forms of activism. However, Olsen is actually a counterrevolutionary because as a feminist writer, her themes and style concern the emotional, individual, and even the spiritual. These features contradict the rational mode with dominated Communist Party leadership. Music, an important part of the Communist movement, also plays a significant role in many of Olsen's writings. Olsen uses this very emotional medium as yet another form of rebellion against the Party's analytical, rational ways. Olsen's use of music in the novel Yonnondio and in the short stories "O Yes" and "Tell Me a Riddle" represents a blatant rebellion against the Communist agenda While a number of critics have noted ways in which Olsen defied Communist expectations with regard to literature, thus far, her revolt with music has been overlooked.
Warr, Melissa Wilkinson, "Tillie Olsen, counter-revolutionary." (2000). Student Work. 3500.