2. “The idea that gender norms can be changed is central to
feminist theory” (McManus)
• A belief that women universally face some
form of oppression or exploitation;
• A commitment to uncover and understand
what causes and sustains oppression;
• A commitment to work individually and
collectively everyday life to end all forms of
3. • Feminist critics analyze how literary
work is influenced by a male dominated
• Feminists feel that authors look for non-
feminine objects or characters and
describe them as feminine to belittle them
and make woman look bad (Brayton)
4. The History Of Feminism
• „Waves of Feminism‟
–1st: (Late 1700s – Early 1900s) Mary
Wollstonecraft highlights the inequalities
between the sexes. Feminists were active in
the women‟s suffrage movement, which lead
to the National Universal suffrage in 1920
5. The History Of Feminism
–2nd: (Early 1960s – Late 1970s)
There are more equal conditions.
N.O.W. (National Organization for
Women) was formed for feminists
in 1966. Simone de Beauvoir and
Elain Showalter formed a basis for
the distribution of feminist theories.
6. The History Of Feminism
–3rd: (Early 1990s – Present) These
decades deepened the equality of
women, such as with a variety of
jobs women can have and a variety
of opportunities open to them.
7. What Is Feminist Criticism?
• A type of literary criticism
that critiques how females
are commonly represented
in texts, and how
representations are as a
categorizing device. They
focus on how femininity is
represented as being
passive and emotional – the
“caregiver,” and the male is
associated with reason and
action – the “doer.”
• the feminist critique of literature seeks to raise
the consciousness about the importance and
unique nature of women in literature, and to
point out how language has been used to
10. Feminist Criticism
• Feminist scholars wish to consider women as subjects, or points of
interest to study.
• They do not want to categorize women as “objects” as men often do.
• They want to question why male dominance is the norm.
• Feminist approach to literary criticism main concern: the ways in
which literature undermines the economic, political, social, and
psychological oppression of women. (McManus)
11. Feminist Criticism
Specifically, the feminist view attempts to:
1. Show that writers of traditional literature
have ignored women and have presented
misguided and prejudiced views of them
2. Create a critical landscape that reflects a
balanced view of the nature and value of
12. Feminist Criticism
3. Expand the literary canon by recovering works
of women of the past and publication of
contemporary female writers
4. Urge transformation in the language to
eliminate inequities and inequalities that
result from linguistic distortions such as
mankind (rather than humanity).
13. Feminist Critical Questions
1. To what extent does the representation of
women (and men) in the work reflect the
time and place in which the work was
2. How are the relationships between men and
women presented in the work?
3. Does the author present the work from
within a predominantly male or female
14. Feminist Critical Questions
4.How do the facts of the author’s life relate to
the presentation of men and women in the
5. How do other works by the author
correspond to this one in their depiction of
the power relationships between men and
15. How To Identify It
• Typical questions literary critics with a feminist
– “How is the relationship between men and women portrayed?
– What are the power relationships between men and women (or
characters assuming male/female roles)?
– How are male and female roles defined?
– What constitutes masculinity and femininity?
– How do characters embody these traits?
– Do characters take on traits from opposite genders? How so? How does
this change others’ reactions to them?” (Brizee and Tompkins)
16. Feminist Literary Criticism
• Critiques patriarchal
language and literature. It
examines gender politics
and traces the construction
of masculinity and
femininity, and what that
status means to society.
• Based on stereotypical
representations of genders.
17. Feminist Theories
• Where patriarchy reigns, a woman
is defined only by her difference
from male norms and values
meaning she is defined as how
different she is from man; Not as
her own individual.
Example: In European society, the Bible depicts Eve as the primary
cause of sin and death in the world
“While biology determines our sex, male or female, culture
determines our gender, masculine or feminine.” (Brizee and
18. Gender studies
• The entire concept of the female difference is
what caused female oppression
• They wish to move beyond “difference”
19. Marxist Feminism
• Focuses on the relation between reading and social
• Marxist feminists attack the prevailing capitalistic
system of the West, which they view as sexually as
well as economically exploitative
• They direct their attention toward conditions of
production of literary texts- economics of publishing
and distributing texts
• Matter vs. manner of a text
20. Psychoanalytic Feminism
• Practical and not terminology-ridden
• French= most innovative and far-reaching of this
– English feminist critics (Marxists) stress oppression
– French feminist critics (psychoanalytic) stress repression
• Reject the idea that art is representational- merely effects of
• Myth- appeals to women because of their
identification with nature (women goddesses- Ceres,
21. Minority Feminism
• Black and lesbian feminists
• Their work tends to use irony as a primary literary
device to focus on their self-definition- their “coming
out”- for they often reject classic literary tradition as
• They accuse other feminist critics of developing their
ideas only in reference to white, upper-middle-class
women who practice feminism only in order to
become a part of the patriarchal power structure.
– Women who want to be considered equal to men (equal
• Brayton , Jennifer. "What makes Feminist Research Feminist? ." The
Structure of Feminist Research . Harper Collins Inc, 1997. Web. 30 Aug
• Brizee, Allen, and J Tompkins. "Feminist Criticism (1960s to present)." The
Purdue OWL. N.p., 2010 April 21. Web. 30 Aug 2012.
• Davis, Marion A.. "Student Pulse." A Brief Look at Feminism in
Shakespeare's Macbeth. Student Pulse, LLC, 2009. Web. 30 Aug 2012.
• Delahoyde, Michael. "Literature." Washington State University. N.p., 6 Jan
2011. Web. 2 Sep 2012.
• Gilbert, Sandra. Rereading Women. 1st ed. New York: W.W. Norton &
Company, 2011. 49-54. Print.
• McManus, Barbara. "Classics and Feminism: Gendering the Classics."
Characteristics of a Feminist Approach. N.p., 1998, October. Web. 30 Aug