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Women's Writings

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Esra Santesso

on 16 August 2013

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Transcript of Women's Writings

Women's Writing
Esra Mirze Santesso, PhD
University of Georgia

- separate and opposite nature
- public vs. domestic spheres
- professional, political life vs. private life (motherhood)
- women as upholders of morals
- Traditional role of women: based on the idea of "Purity"
Domestic activities
Adrienne Rich
Women's tone: victimization and anger
Desirable woman: Non-threatening, desxualized, muse for men (aesthetic beauty--Idealized object by the male gaze)
Restricted to the private sphere
"failed woman" vs "failed poet"
Motherhood as an obstacle
Gender Studies
Gender identity
Politics of representation
Gynocriticism: a practice focused on a gendered literary study (Elaine Showalter)
ecriture femimine: the idea that women use language differently than men
Three Waves of feminism:
1. Suffrage and political equality: contract law, property, voting
2. Cultural equality: sexuality, family, the workplace
3. De-essentializing: plurality of female experiences beyond upper-middle-class white women
What is a Woman?
Sex vs. Gender
Biological state (male/female)
Socially-constructed behavior (femininity/masculinity)
Judith Butler: Identity as performance
Simone de Beauvoir: "One is not born a woman, one becomes one"
Women's Writing
Patriarchal privileges
Material difficulties (income)
"A room of her own"
19th C Gender Ideology
sub-category of literary studies
gender studies
feminist critique
Adrienne Rich
Virginia Woolf

Angel in the House
by Coventry Patmore

You, Sweet, his Mistress, Wife, and Muse,
Were you for mortal woman meant?
Your praises give a hundred clues
To mythological intent!
And, severing thus the truth from trope,
In you the Commentators see
Outlines occult of abstract scope,
A future for philosophy!
Ideology: A way of thinking, a set of beliefs )often unconscious), assumptions that you take for granted, what seems "natural.
Essentialism: a set of attributes which are necessary to identity
Useful Vocabulary

- To look at how women have been represented in literature
- To observe differences between how women and men write
- To understand shifting values and gender ideology
Traditional Portrayals of women in literature
- shallow and stereotypical: passive angel vs. aggressive monster
- restricted to the private sphere
- devoid of political agency
- defined by domestic roles
The Madwoman in the Attic by Gilbert and Gubar
- study of 19th C women writers
many female characters were identified as mad (hysteria, anorexia, starvation)
- revealing of the Victorian investment in patriarchal values
- hypothesis: such representations of victimhood actually reveal women's coping mechanism with severe forms of oppression

Women's Rights
Gloria Steinem
Blurred Lines
Full transcript