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Feminist Criticism

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Madison Ford

on 3 April 2013

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Transcript of Feminist Criticism

Feminist Criticism A Seminar by:
Madison Ford
Sonia Kim
Daniel Lee
Emile Pelka Theorists and Their
Questions A Pair of Silk
Stockings Analysis How to Use Feminist
Literary Criticism Analytical Questions Feminist literary critics have also examined... Theoretical Feminism Definition Examples Levels of Feminism What is Feminist Criticism? As Judith Fetterley puts it "Feminist criticism is a political act whose aim is not simply to interpret the world but to change it by changing the consciousness of those who read and their relation to what they read... [The first act of a feminist critic is] to become a resisting rather than assenting reader, by this refusal to assent, to begin the process of exorcizing the male mind that has been implanted in us." Thematic
The feminist reader should identify with female characters and their concerns. Mary Wollstonecraft - A Vindication of the Rights of Women, 1792
Simone de Beauvoir - Le deuxième sexe, 1972
Julia Kristeva - About Chinese Women, 1977
Elaine Showalter - A Literature of Their Own, 1977; "Toward a Feminist Poetics," 1979
Deborah E. McDowell - "New Directions for Black Feminist Criticism," 1980
Alice Walker - In Search of Our Mother's Gardens, 1983
Lillian S. Robinson - "Treason out Text: Feminist Challenges to the Literary Canon," 1983
Camile Paglia - Sexual Personae: The Androgyne in Literature and Art, 1990 Anglo –American
- Virginia Woolf (forerunner), known as “mother” of Anglo-American:
Studied Greek
Women’s suffrage active participant
Wrote for the Times Literary Supplement
Woman’s college
Lesbian experience
“A Room of One’s Own”
-More practically minded What is the protagonists attitude toward the male and female characters in the text? How is this evident? How does this effect your response to the characters? 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 themselves fared in given eras.
how traditional texts by women are subversive of the social order. Consider the roles and situations of female characters. Make lists of different aspects of the female character's place in the overall story. Look at the relationship of female characters to each other.
Review the role of female characters in relation to their male counterparts.
Look at the vocational roles of women in the literature.
Consider the attitudes of characters and how their world-views contribute to the eventual outcomes in the story. 1. The protagonist in this story is Mrs. Sommers, who has little interaction and therefore the reader is given minimal insight into her attitude towards the other minor male and female characters in the story. Primarily based on the way Mrs. Sommers sees herself she believes in the societal norms and gender roles. Mrs. Sommers believes it is the womans duty to take care of the family.

2. Women represented in a brave and heroic light, as family oriented and self sacrificing. Although in the story Mrs. Sommers splurges and indulges herself with extravagant things of her past, she does not pay for these luxuries out of her family’s budget. 3. Mrs. Sommers plays a very responsible role as a mother. As soon as she gets the money, she decides she would buy clothes for her children. Although it doesn’t turn out exactly as she planned I still think she is a good mother and a very responsible person.

7. Mrs. Sommers's life was limited by the amount of money she was able to possess without her husband controlling her spending. She was unable to buy what she wanted for herself prior to this find of fifteen dollars. Her life does not seem extremely restricted, as she is still able to walk about town without being questioned or interrogated about her spending spree. Historical Background
and Timeline Second Wave Feminism Timeline First Wave Feminism National Organization for Women (NOW) was formed in 1966
Simone de Beauvoir & Elaine Showalter (writers): America Civil Rights movement Mary Wollstonecraft (writer): Inequalities between men and women
Susan B. Anthony & Victoria Woodhull (activists): Women’s suffrage movement (Great Britain and US in 1920)
2 World Wars: women were capable (Late 1700s ~ Early 1900s) 19th century – Women’s Liberation Movement
American & French Revolutions, anti-slavery movement
Major changes: women became lawyers, doctors, journalists
Women were still treated unequally, but they definitely had a louder voice (Early 1960s ~ Late 1970s) 20th century - Women gained legal & political rights
- Development of feminism French
-Helene Cixous (theorist)
•Best known for idea of a feminist essentialism
•“The Laugh of the Medusa”
•“Write yourself. Your body must be heard”
-More theoretic
-Focus on language
•Forces women to choose – “The Invisible and unheard sex”
•Annie Leclerc, Marguerite Duras, Xaviere Gauthier – l’ecriture feminine: women’s writing
•Feminine language: unifying & rhythmic American (1970s ~ Early 1980s)
-Analyze literary texts
-Examples: Kate Millet, Carolyn Heilbrun, and Judith Fetterley How and to what degree are the women's lives limited or restricted in this text? What constitutes masculinity and femininity? How do characters embody these traits? How do women exercise their power in the text? With what consequence? What were the social and historical conditions for women in this period that might help us understand their roles and desires in the text? What roles do both men and women play within family, work situations, et cetera (ex hero, breadwinner, friend, helper, cook, servant, sex object)? How are women represented in the text? Objective To provide a critique of assumptions dominated by male attitudes and an analysis of patriarchal visions or ideologies inscribed in a literature that is male-centered and male-dominated
To refuse to accept the cult of masculine virility and superiority that reduces women to a sex object, a second sex, a submissive other. Ideological
The reader seeks to learn not to accept the authoritative perspective of the male and refuses to be assimilated by a gender-biased criticism. Third Wave Feminism (Early 1990s ~ Present) Expands populations’ experiences 3 Waves of Feminism Writers highlight the inequalities between the sexes.
Activists contribute to the women's suffrage movement, which leads to National Universal Suffrage in 1920 with the passing of the Nineteenth Amendment 1700's
-1900's 1990's - Present Building on more equal working conditions necessary in America during World War II
Established the groundwork for the publication of feminist theories Resisting the perceived essentialist (over generalized, over simplified) ideologies 1960's
- 1970's How are male and female roles defined? How is the relationship between men and women portrayed? 4. Back in the 1800s men were the main voice in the family, received the best education, and had control over women while women stayed at home: cooking, taking care of the children and cleaning. Women in this time period were required to act formally, without disturbing their husbands whatsoever. They could not have a room on their own, and did not have much freedom of choice. 5. It is evident that Mrs. Sommers, the protagonist, exercises her power by spending the $15 she possesses, her source of power, very unwisely. In the beginning, she plans on using the money for her children and household needs. However, as she begins experiencing the luxuries that money can buy, she becomes blinded by the temptations in her surroundings. The greatest consequence that arises from her misuse of power is that she cannot determine her limits as to where she should stop. 6. If I were to rewrite the text`s ending, the man sitting across from Mrs. Sommers on the cable car would steal her shopping bag as he exited the vehicle. Mrs. Sommers would have lost the gloves, magazines and other expensive items she had bought herself. Works Cited Lewis, Jared. "How to Use Feminist Literary Criticism."eHow. N.p., 24 02 2013. Web. 1 Apr 2013. <http://www.ehow.com/how_2074521_use-feminist-literary-criticism.html>.

Henderson, Greig E., and Christopher Brown. "Feminist Criticism." Glossary of Literary Theory. University of Toronto, 31 03 1997. Web. 27 March 2013. <http://www.library.utoronto.ca/utel/glossary/Feminist_criticism.html>.

Brizee, Allen, and J. Case Tompkins. "Feminist Criticism (1960s-present)." Purdue Online Writing Lab. N.p., 24 04 2010. Web. 1 Apr 2013. <http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/722/11/>.





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