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Transcript of Women's Writings
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"
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
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"
Material difficulties (income)
"A room of her own"
19th C Gender Ideology
sub-category of literary studies
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
- 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