Constance Rourke


Biography of Constance Rourke

Constance Mayfield Rourke (November 14, 1885- March 29, 1941) was an American author and educator. She was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and attended Sorbonne and Vassar College. She taught at Vassar from 1910 to 1915. She died in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1941.

Rourke specialized in American popular culture. She wrote numerous pieces of criticism for magazines like The Nation and The New Republic. However, she made her name as a writer of biographies and biographical sketches of notable American figures, such as John James Audubon, P.T. Barnum, Lotta Crabtree, Davy Crockett, and Charles Sheeler, as well as books exploring different components of American culture and its history, of which American Humor: A Study of the National Character, first published in 1931, is the most famous. During the 1930s she worked on the Index of American Design as part of the Works Progress Administration. Her work was essential in the formation of the scholarly fields of American Studies and American Literature.

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