Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Feminist Criticism
Women – sources of inspiration. They could succeed in writing only when they were economically and financially independent.
ü  History of women’s writing:
-          Feminine phase (1840-80): women writers imitated dominant male artistic norms and aesthetic standards.
-          Feminist phase (1880-1920): radical and often separatist positions are maintained
-          Female phase (1920 onwards): focus on female writing and female experience
-          1960s: ‘women’s movement’
-          1970s: exposing the ‘mechanisms of patriarchy’
-          1980s: influence of Marxism, structuralism, linguistics etc.
ü  Feminist critics:
-          describing the history of women in terms of suppression by a patriarchal system;
-          distinguishing between natural (sex) and cultural/social (gender) attributes of womanhood;
-          gender is not biologically determined but depends on social agreements, codes, conventions, tacit assumptions and acknowledged expectations.
ü  Feminist criticism and language: a ‘man’s sentence’ - completely different from a ‘woman’s sentence’.
-          Hélène Cixous
·         écriture feminine ~ ‘female spelling’
·         associated with the feminine, and facilitating the free play of meanings within the framework of loosened grammatical structures
-          Julia Kristeva
·         2 different aspects of language, both of which are always present in any       
given sample
·         symbolic: authority, order, repression, control
·         symbiotic: displacement, slippage, condensation
·         bled off by Jacques Lacan´s distinction between the two realms of the Imaginary and the Symbolic
ü  Feminist criticism and psychoanalysis
-          Sandra Gilbert & Susan Gubar
·          idea of the ‘social castration’
·         signifies women´s lack of social power
ü  Feminist criticism and the role of theory:
-          ‘Anglo-American’ feminism:
·         Traditional critical concepts (theme, motif, and characterisation)
·         Use of historical data and non-literary material: diaries, memoirs, social and medical history etc.
·         Elaine Showalter, Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar, Patricia Stubbs, and Rachel Brownstein
-          ‘French’ feminism:
·         More overtly theoretical -- often deals with language, representation, and psychology
·         Literary text is never primarily a representation of reality
·         Julia Kristeva, Hélène Cixous, and Luce Irigaray
ü  Feminist literary studies à revising the canon:
-          discovery and reprisal of writings by women that had been lost and forgotten;
·         Oxford Anthology of English Literature of 1973 – one female author (!)
·         Norton Anthology of 2006 – 26 women writers
-          analysis of the conditions of production, distribution, reception and transmission of female writing and exploration of the horizons of possibility and constrains that women authors were subject to
-          reading and re-evaluating literature (of male writes) from the point of view of women as readers.

ü  Poststructuralist feminism à concepts of gender-specific feminine language that escapes from the dominant, socially accepted, male-centered ways of expression.
ü  Gynocriticism à only women can speak for women (Elaine Showalter).
ü  Gender studies:
-          gender vs. sex à sex is biologically determined and generally associated with a certain gender. Gender is a set of cultural concepts about the role and behaviour of a sex.  Sex and gender need not to coincide
-          shift from essentialism to performativity: critics refused to view gender/sex as an essential factor of personal identity but instead look at it as subordination to social rules
-          Judith Butler – the person most connected to the reformation of feminism.  She developed a highly innovative concept of sex and gender.
ü  Queer theory:
-          Reflection on the role of sexuality in society and culture
-          Uncovering of how concepts of homosexuality / heterosexuality influence the production and reception of literature.
-          “queering” -> critical reading of “normal” social practices with intention to subvert established norms and prevent repression of deviant sexual practices 

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