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Feminist literary criticism


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Feminist literary criticism

  1. 1. Feminist Literary Criticism
  2. 2. History • Launched in the twentieth century with Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own (1929) • 1969 Kate Millett examined how women are represented in text by famous men in Sexual Politics
  3. 3. Basic ideas Though a number of different approaches exist in feminist criticism, there exist some areas of commonality.: • Women are oppressed by patriarchy economically, politically, socially, and psychologically; patriarchal ideology is the primary means by which they are kept so • In every domain where patriarchy reigns, woman is other: she is marginalized, defined only by her difference from male norms and values • All of western (Anglo-European) civilization is deeply rooted in patriarchal ideology, for example, in the biblical portrayal of Eve as the origin of sin and death in the world
  4. 4. Basic Ideas • While biology determines our sex (male or female), culture determines our gender (masculine or feminine) • All feminist activity, including feminist theory and literary criticism, has as its ultimate goal to change the world by prompting gender equality • Gender issues play a part in every aspect of human production and experience, including the production and experience of literature, whether we are consciously aware of these issues or not.
  5. 5. Feminist critics examine • How women write their own experiences and representations • How women read about themselves • How to make feminist readings visible to readers • How women writers have fared in given eras • How traditional texts by women are subversive of the social order
  6. 6. Key terms • Ideology: dominant values, beliefs, ways of thinking through which a culture understands reality • Patriarchy: male dominated power structures • Misogyny=hatred of women • Misandry=hatred of men • The Other: Woman has often been categorized as being “other”
  7. 7. Strengths • For centuries, women in literature, the roles of men and women, and how they were represented was not a focus in literary criticism
  8. 8. Weaknesses •If this is the only theory applied to a text, it can be very limiting