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Log in here for access. Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.noc18-hs31 Lecture 29-Feminism and Literature I:Mary Wollstonecraft
Log in or Sign up. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation. In this letter, Abigail asks that he and other members of the Continental Congress consider new freedoms for women during the period of time the American colonies were seeking freedom from Great Britain.
Throughout history, politically and socially newsworthy events have compelled writers and journalists to report, support, and reflect thoughts or feelings about those events through their writing.
Such was the case for early feminist writers in America. Shortly after Abigail's written entreaty to her husband, many women, stifled by the strict conventional social boundaries of the day and the lack of women's rights, followed suit and wrote to convey feelings of frustration and outright indignation regarding voting restrictions, marital repression, and male dominance.
Feminist literature was born of the need to express injustice and a need for change. An outpouring of essays, articles, books, and journals caught the public eye and fanned the flames of reform for women in the nineteenth century.
Not only did such writing have an enormous impact as a change agent, but it also left a lasting legacy for women and a wealth of literary history. According to Annette Kolodny, noted feminist literary critic, feminist literatureor feminist criticism as it is often referred to, is any material written by a woman, any female criticism of any material written by a man, or female criticism of literary content produced by another woman.
More often than not, feminist literature addresses relevant political issues, current attitudes toward women in society, or attempts to break down gender-specific misconceptions. It is not restricted across culture or religion, so topics span a broad range, from politics to race, religion, and the institution of marriage, among others. These topics have contributed to a rich patchwork quilt of literary masterpieces that is part of our heritage and history.
There are specific characteristics that identify this literary field or genre. Feminist literature portrays characters or ideas that attempt to change gender norms. It tends to examine, question, and argue for change against established and antiquated gender roles through the written word. Feminist literature strives to alter inequalities between genders across societal and political arenas. Finally, it seeks to add a unique and often overlooked feminine-specific voice and tone to gender, societal and political issues, as well as social inequalities where a feminine voice is needed to make an impact.Whether you're a fan of Margaret Atwood or Virginia Woolf, a feminist take on literature is a great way to look at how women are second class citizens, now and then.
Look into any one novel, whether top-notch or lesser known, and you've got fodder for how both society viewed the role of women at any given time. The field is a broad one, though, so it can be hard to pinpoint exactly where to focus your research. Thankfully, a few typical areas of study exist so pick one, and you'll be well on your way towards exposing misogyny and reading a few really great books as well. The writing of female authors gives perfect insight into their place in literary history.
Feminism as a Literary Movement
Does the writer refuse to take on women's issues and instead write under a male pen name and use male values? Calling George Eliot! Was she embroiled in early feminism and trying to prove that her voice and her writing was just as legit, like Virginia Woolf did? Or does she adopt a more post-feminism approach and simply assume that her work deserves to be heard? All of these approaches will give you plenty of food for thought as to what kind of world your author lived in.
For example, Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar's "The Madwoman In the Attic" argues that Rochester's mad wife who was cooped up in his attic symbolizes the inability of women to get their creative juices going.
Instead they had to resort to being destructive. Who can blame them? How both male and female authors treat their characters owes a lot to wherever and whenever they lived.
This could show a virgin or whore thinking about women in early English society -- though we wonder, has anything changed? Elizabethan comedic plays often feature crossing-dressing men as a comment on gender -- a researcher could investigate how much Queen Elizabeth I's reign affected how Elizabethan writers were allowed to show women on stage.
You'll also want to compare the female characters of male and female authors in a particular genre or time -- this is definitely a rich area for exploration! Seek female literary traditions and you shall find them. Female literary canons will give you a great opportunity to look at different cultures, races and classes.
Although Victorian works by Bronte, Austen and the like might spring to mind, try to search for a more offbeat subject and don't be afraid to compare canons that might seem dissimilar. Then they were compared with the works from three female Anglo writers from the same time. The social and financial status of people are inseparable, especially for women.The concept of Feminism, in general, has been concerned to an analysis of the trend of male domination in the society; the general attitude of male towards female; the exploitation and discrimination faced by females; the need for and ways of improving the condition of women; and, so on.
In concern to literature, this movement has concentrated on the role played by literature to support gender discrimination as well as to oppose it; the reasons for lesser significance of the contribution by female writers in the literary tradition than that of the male writers; the difference in the ways in which works of male writers and female writers, respectively, have represented gender discrimination; and, the ways in which social conditions and literary traditions regarding gender discrimination have affected one another.
The concept got proper identification in the literary field during s. Before that, feminism was limited to the authorship of female writers and the representation given to women in literature with the help of female characters. The condition of women in society, in general, got expression through the situations faced by fictional female characters and their responses to these situations.
The adoption of the concept by literature in a formal manner led to the study of all the aspects of human life; like social, cultural, educational, professional and financial; with an intent to expose the intentional and unintentional efforts of the society to maintain or intensify the effects of patriarchal superiority.
It was concerned mainly to the treatment of women at the hands of male members of the society. A number of prominent works of the past were also analyzed during this stage so as to study the attitude of male members of society, in general, to the female ones. This phase introduced, more or less the first time, a direct analysis of the relation between female and literature. It was during this phase that female writers and the significance they got in the society were studied.
Female characters were studied with an approach to understand the difference between the treatment of female characters at the hands or male and female writers, respectively. The most important aspect of this phase is the efforts to understand the evolution of the female literary tradition. Some even wrote with pseudonyms resembling male names. The second phase saw female writers writing, mainly, on the themes of the role of women and the oppression faced by her in society.
The third phase lacked the anger and dissatisfaction in the works of female writers. The female writers, in this stage, created works which suggested that they had developed an independent identity as writers. It suggests that since women are not given a chance by the society to express their creativity, their frustration leads them to behave in psychologically imbalanced and dissident manner.
The French concept of feminism even raised the issue of a separate language that belongs exclusively to women. Thus, feminism, in literature as well as otherwise, began as an expression of dissatisfaction regarding the attitude of the society towards the identity and rights of women. However, slowly, it evolved to empower women to make her financially, socially and psychologically independent. In the field of literature, it evolved to finally enable the female writers to be free from the influence of male writers as well as the social norms that suggested different standards for male and female.
Which of the following has not been particularly part of feminism as a literary movement at any stage? History of Feminism. Three waves of Feminism. Feminist movements and ideologies.
Log in to Reply.On the one hand, feminism has never been more widely proclaimed or marketable than it is now. On the other hand, its last ten years of mainstream prominence and acceptability culminated in the election of President Donald Trump.
Now What? Feminism, she tells us, has become a self-serving brand popularized by C. Crispin is the founder of Booksluta literary Web site that she started, inwhen she was a full-time employee at Planned Parenthood, in Austin, Texas. She was ahead of the word-reclamation curve that culminated in the Slutwalk marches, which were first held in After accumulating a modest but enthusiastic following, Crispin closed down Bookslut inwith minimal ceremony.
I find MFA culture terrible. The effect of the catchy title stands regardless. Crispin mostly focusses on younger and newer feminists, castigating them as selfish and timid, afraid of the second wave. From toI worked as an editor at Jezebel, a site that, when it was founded, inhelped to define online feminism—and served ever afterward as a somewhat abstracted target for women who criticized contemporary feminism from the left.
The inside threat to feminism in is less a disavowal of radical ideas than an empty co-option of radical appearances—a superficial, market-based alignment that is more likely to make a woman feel good and righteous than lead her to the political action that feminism is meant to spur.
We have misinterpreted the old adage that the personal is political, she writes—inflecting our personal desires and decisions with political righteousness while neatly avoiding political accountability. That this line of argument seems like a plausible next step for contemporary feminism reflects the recent and rapid leftward turn of liberal politics.
There is, it seems, a growing hunger for a feminism concerned more with the lives of low-income women than with the number of female C. The opposing view—that feminism is not just broadly compatible with capitalism but actually served by it—has certainly enjoyed its share of prominence. This is the message that has been passed down by the vast majority of self-styled feminist role models over the past ten years: that feminism is what you call it when an individual woman gets enough money to do whatever she wants.
By Ariel Lev y. Jia Tolentino is a staff writer at The New Yorker. More: Books Feminism Megyn Kelly. The New Yorker Recommends What our staff is reading, watching, and listening to each week. Read More. Jia Tolentin o. When In Rome Dept.This essay offers a very basic introduction to feminist literary theory, and a compendium of Great Writers Inspire resources that can be approached from a feminist perspective.
It provides suggestions for how material on the Great Writers Inspire site can be used as a starting point for exploration of or classroom discussion about feminist approaches to literature. Questions for reflection or discussion are highlighted in the text. Links in the text point to resources in the Great Writers Inspire site. The resources can also be found via the ' Feminist Approaches to Literature' start page. Further material can be found via our library and via the various authors and theme pages.
According to Yale Professor Paul Fry in his lecture The Classical Feminist Tradition fromthere have been several prominent schools of thought in modern feminist literary criticism:.
Do you agree with Showalter's 'phases'? How does your favourite female writer fit into these phases? Read Jane Eyre with the madwoman thesis in mind. Are there connections between Jane's subversive thoughts and Bertha's appearances in the text? How does it change your view of the novel to consider Bertha as an alter ego for Jane, unencumbered by societal norms? Look closely at Rochester's explanation of the early symptoms of Bertha's madness.
How do they differ from his licentious behaviour? How does Jane Austen fit into French Feminism? She uses very concise language, yet speaks from a woman's perspective with confidence. Can she be placed in Showalter's phases of women's writing? Simon Swift of the University of Leeds gives a podcast titled 'How Words, Form, and Structure Create Meaning: Women and Writing' that uses the works of Virginia Woolf and Silvia Plath to analyse the form and structural aspects of texts to ask whether or not women writers have a voice inherently different from that of men podcast part 1 and part 2.
In Professor Deborah Cameron's podcast English and GenderCameron discusses the differences and similarities in use of the English language between men and women. In another of Professor Paul Fry's podcasts, Queer Theory and Gender PerformativityFry discusses sexuality, the nature of performing genderand gendered reading How do more modern A-level set texts, like those of Margaret Atwood, Zora Neale Hurston, or Maya Angelou, fit into any of these traditions of criticism?
How might the reign of Queen Elizabeth I have dictated the way Elizabethan writers were permitted to present women? How did each male poet handle the challenge of depicting women? The heroine was a man playing a woman dressed as a man. In Dr.
Emma Smith's podcast on The Roaring GirlSmith breaks down both the gender issues of the play and of the real life accusations against Mary Frith. Placing Middleton or Webster's female characters against those of Shakespeare could be brought to bear on A-level Paper 4 on Drama or Paper 5 on Shakespeare and other preth Century Texts. Smith's podcast on The Comedy of Errors from alludes to the valuation of Elizabethan comedy as a commentary on gender and sexuality, and how The Comedy of Errors at first seems to defy this tradition.
What are the differences between depictions of women written by male and female novelists?Feminist literary criticism is literary criticism informed by feminist theoryor more broadly, by the politics of feminism. It uses the principles and ideology of feminism to critique the language of literature. This school of thought seeks to analyze and describe the ways in which literature portrays the narrative of male domination by exploring the economic, social, political, and psychological forces embedded within literature.
It is used a lot in Greek myths.
American Feminist Literature: Definition & Characteristics
Traditionally, feminist literary criticism has sought to examine old texts within literary canon through a new lens. Specific goals of feminist criticism include both the development and discovery female tradition of writing, and rediscovering of old texts, while also interpreting symbolism of women's writing so that it will not be lost or ignored by the male point of view and resisting sexism inherent in the majority of mainstream literature.
These goals, along with the intent to analyze women writers and their writings from a female perspective, and increase awareness of the sexual politics of language and style  were developed by Lisa Tuttle in the s, and have since been adopted by a majority of feminist critics.
The history of feminist literary criticism is extensive, from classic works of nineteenth-century women authors such as George Eliot and Margaret Fuller to cutting-edge theoretical work in women's studies and gender studies by " third-wave " authors. Before the s—in the first and second waves of feminism—feminist literary criticism was concerned with women's authorship and the representation of women's condition within the literature; in particular the depiction of fictional female characters.
In addition, feminist literary criticism is concerned with the exclusion of women from the literary canon, with theorists such as Lois Tyson suggesting that this is because the views of women authors are often not considered to be universal. Additionally, feminist criticism has been closely associated with the birth and growth of queer studies. Modern feminist literary theory seeks to understand both the literary portrayals and representation of both women and people in the queer community, expanding the role of a variety of identities and analysis within feminist literary criticism.
Feminist scholarship has developed a variety of ways to unpack literature in order to understand its essence through a feminist lens. Scholars under the camp known as Feminine Critique sought to divorce literary analysis away from abstract diction-based arguments and instead tailored their criticism to more "grounded" pieces of literature plot, characters, etc.
Others schools of thought such as gynocriticism —which is considered a 'female' perspective on women's writings—uses a historicist approach to literature by exposing exemplary female scholarship in literature and the ways in which their relation to gender structure relayed in their portrayal of both fiction and reality in their texts. Gynocriticism was introduced during the time of second wave feminism.
Elaine Showalter suggests that feminist critique is an "ideological, righteous, angry, and admonitory search for the sins and errors of the past," and says gynocriticism enlists "the grace of imagination in a disinterested search for the essential difference of women's writing. More contemporary scholars attempt to understand the intersecting points of femininity and complicate our common assumptions about gender politics by accessing different categories of identity race, class, sexual orientation, etc.
The ultimate goal of any of these tools is to uncover and expose patriarchal underlying tensions within novels and interrogate the ways in which our basic literary assumptions about such novels are contingent on female subordination. In this way, the accessibility of literature broadens to a far more inclusive and holistic population.
Moreover, works that historically received little or no attention, given the historical constraints around female authorship in some cultures, are able to be heard in their original form and unabridged. This makes a broader collection of literature for all readers insofar as all great works of literature are given exposure without bias towards a gender influenced system. Women have also begun to employ anti-patriarchal themes to protest the historical censorship of literature written by women.
The rise of decadent feminist literature in the s was meant to directly challenge the sexual politics of the patriarchy. By employing a wide range of female sexual exploration and lesbian and queer identities by those like Rita Felski and Judith Bennet, women were able attract more attention about feminist topics in literature.
Since the development of more complex conceptions of gender and subjectivity and third-wave feminismfeminist literary criticism has taken a variety of new routes, namely in the tradition of the Frankfurt School 's critical theorywhich analyzes how the dominant ideology of a subject influences societal understanding. It has also considered gender in the terms of Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalysisas part of the deconstruction of existing relations of power, and as a concrete political investment.
More specifically, modern feminist criticism deals with those issues related to the perceived intentional and unintentional patriarchal programming within key aspects of society including education, politics and the work force. When looking at literature, modern feminist literary critics also seek ask how feminist, literary, and critical the critique practices are, with scholars such as Susan Lanser looking to improve both literature analysis and the analyzer's own practices to be more diverse.
While the beginning of more mainstream feminist literary criticism is typically considered during second-wave feminism, there are multiple texts prior to that era that contributed greatly to the field.
Feminist literary criticism can be traced back to medieval times, with some arguing that Geoffrey Chaucer's Wife of Bath could be an example of early feminist literary critics. In it, Woolf argues that in order to write creatively and be critically successful, a woman must be able to own her own space and financial stability.
And though the basis of the plot is around a Woolf speaking at a conference for women's literature, she speculates that there is still a long way to go for women and so-called 'women's issues' in creative space, especially based on the differences in educational quality Woolf observed between men and women. Modern feminist literary criticism finds most of its roots in the s second-wave feminist movements.
Beginning with the interrogation of male-centric literature that portrayed women in a demeaning and oppressed model, theorists such as Mary Ellman, Kate Millet and Germaine Greer challenged past imaginations of the feminine within literary scholarship. Within second-wave feminism, three phases can be defined: the feminine phase, the feminist phase, and the female phase. During the feminine phase, female writers adhered to male values.The issue of Feminism in English Literature is not new but due to patriarchal society, it has been suppressed and overlooked.
The existence of inequalities between men and women are not natural but social taboo. One may ask. She vehemently argued that patriarchal education systems and reading practices prevent women readers from reading as women. She advocates for the liberation of women, financially independence and right to reveal feelings and experiences through words.
In relation to literature, the feminism movement has focused on the role played by literature to bring out gender discrimination, domestic violence, and inequality on the forefront.
The concept of Feminism Movement got proper prominence and importance in the s. Earlier, feminism was limited to some female writers only but the increased number of female writers and the representation of women characters in fiction world drew large attention in the literature. The evolution of the feminist movement in the literature as follows:. This phase chiefly explores the relationship between female and literature and texts were analyzed to understand the treatment of female characters by the male in the society.
Feminism questions the long-standing, dominant, male interpretations, phallocentric ideology and patriarchal attitude.
An Essay on Feminism in English Literature
It concerned with varied aspects of feminism. Today women writers write enormously and expressed their sensibilities through their writings to enrich the substance of English literature. Feminism has empowered the confidence of women and provided the individuality identification in the patriarchal society. Here is a complete course on Feminism. Have you read these?