Wow, I hope you know how fortunate you are to have help for your project
from both Merrill Skaggs and Jo Ann Middleton. This listserve is the best.
Have you found Deborah Carlin's book *Cather, Canon, and the Politics of
Reading*? Published in 1992 by U Mass Press.
Why writers are in or out of the canon is one of my interests. One way of
structuring your project might be to take someone who is definitely "out"
of the canon and compare her to Cather. A writer who comes to mind who
might make a good comparison (female, writing at approximately the same
time) is Ellen Glasgow. Although Glasgow's books have been
recently "rediscovered," I don't think she'll ever make it as a major
Good luck with your project.
St. Louis, MO