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Feminist Criticism in Literature

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Matteo Althoen

on 16 September 2014

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Transcript of Feminist Criticism in Literature

Feminist Criticism in Literature
Definition of feminist criticism
Key Figures in Feminist Criticism
Background Information on Feminist Criticism
First Wave Criticism - Refers to a period of feminist activity during the 19th and early 20th century. Focuses on legal advancement of women.
Criticism is based on the premise that patriarchy suppresses women
The individuality of women solely comes from the difference in gender
Gender is predetermined by biology, but cultural and societal factors influence masculinity/femininity
The goal is to explain and minimize gender inequality
Analysis of literature based on how the female characters are portrayed
Uses analysis of textual evidence to prove the status of women in society and how they delineate themselves
Can either support or refute the oppression against women
topics of oppression include economical, political, psychological, and social
Tenets of Feminist Criticism
Strengths of this theory
gives attention to the injustices that women face
allows the audience to see the inequality of male domination through intricate analysis of plots
brought fresh voices and views of women into the patriarchal societies
Weaknesses of Feminist Criticism
1. Brizee, Allen, and J. C. Tompkins. "Feminist Criticism (1960s-present)." Purdue OWL: Literary Theory and Schools of Criticism. Purdue University, 12 Apr. 2010. Web. 13 Sept. 2014.

2. "Feminism: Basic Principles." Sociology.org. n.d. Web. 14 Sept. 2014.

3. "Feminist Criticism." VirtuaLit: Critical Approaches. Bedford St. Martin's, n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2014.

4. Gaudreau, Richard. "Feminism, Epistemology, and Activism: An Analysis of Feminism’s Strengths and Weaknesses and Considerations for Future Developments." Online Academic Community. 3 Nov. 2013. Web. 14 Sept. 2014.

5. Pasia, Samuel. "Feminism as an Approach to Literary Criticism." Academia.edu. n.d. Web. 14 Sept. 2014.

6. Tomaselli, Sylvana. "Mary Wollstonecraft." Stanford University. Stanford University, 16 Apr. 2008. Web. 14 Sept. 2014.

7. Lee, Elizabeth. "Feminist Theory -- An Overview." The Victorian Web.Brown University, 1996. Web. 15 Sept. 2014

8. "Alice Walker." Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation, n.d. Web. 16 Sept. 2014.

9. "Quotes about Ophelia." Quotes about Ophelia. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Sept. 2014

Examples of Feminist Criticism in Shakespeare's
Matteo Althoen sc#9
Rebecca Gu #1 & #3
Rebecca Gu #3
Is narrow-minded, excludes alternate explanations of oppression from consideration
Can cause the misinterpretation of authors' intentions
Often viewed as untraditional, aggressive, hostile
Shwetha Rajaram, #4
Liberal Feminism:
Gender equality can be achieved through educating the ignorant and taking legal action
Marxist Feminism:
Capitalism causes patriarchy, which in turn oppresses women
Socialist Feminism:
The inferiority of women comes from their function as mothers and their economic dependence on their husbands
Radical Feminism:
Men and women are opponents; women seek freedom from being controlled by males
Shwetha Rajaram, #1, 2, 5
Mary Wollstonecraft- Used period of enlightenment to write
The Vindication of the Rights of Woman
where she argued that all women are inevitably miserable due to them being imprisoned by social constraints. In order to fight this, she argued that all women must become rational and independent beings to function well in society.
Alice Walker- Created the term "womanism". She created this term in order to describe someone who unlike a feminist, also appreciated the culture, emotions, and character of women. Walker is also famous for her books such as
The Color Purple
which also show the feminist experience through the eyes of an African American woman.
Elaine Showalter- Showalter is one of the most well known feminist crtics in literature. She is also well known for her novel A Literature of Their Own where she breaks down the entire history of women's literature into three stages: androgynist poetics, female Aesthetic, and finally Gynocritics.
Matteo Althoen sc. 7,8,9
Keywords and definitions on Feminist Criticism
Misogyny - Dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women.
Patriarchy - a system of society or government in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded from it.
Misandry - hatred of man
Second Wave Criticism - Refers to a period of feminist activity that first began in the early 1960's. The classical era of feminism, when issues broadened out to include domestic problems, sexuality, harassment, reproductive rights, and more.
womanism - a form of feminism that emphasizes women’s contribution to society
Third Wave criticism - Refers to a period of feminist activity in the 1980's and present.The goal is to validate the works of women authors.
Diamond McCaa #1
Diamond McCaa #2
"Scoffed at, ignored, suspected, disbelieved, commanded to distrust her own feelings, thoughts and desires, Ophelia is fragmented by contradictory messages ... Seeming to absorb the general absence of belief in her own intelligence, virtue, and autonomy, Ophelia is left with an identity osmotically open to external suggestion; that is, she appears to lack clear psychic boundaries ... Ophelia appears never to have [been] allowed to develop a discrete sense of self apart from those others (father and brother, then later, Hamlet) who fashioned her identity to suit their needs." Gabrielle Dane,
Reading Ophelia's Madness
"In so far as Hamlet names Ophelia as “woman” and “frailty,” substituting an ideological view of femininity for a personal one,is she indeed representative of Woman, and does her madness stand for the oppression of women in society as well as in tragedy?" Elaine Showalter, "Representing Ophelia: Women, Madness, and the Responsibilities of Feminist Criticism"
By Matteo Althoen, Rebecca Gu, Diamond McCaa, & Shwetha Rajaram
permitted women to share their own view of how they fit into the general population
moved on from analyzing text plainly through language, and included looking at the plot, characters, and historical connections
Mary Wollstonecraft
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