Before about 1840, there was little prestige attached to the writing of novels, and most English novelists were women. By the turn of the twentieth century, "men of letters" acclaimed novels as a form of great literature, and most critically successful novelists were men. In the book, sociologist Gaye Tuchman examines how men succeeded in redefining a form of culture and in invading a white-collar occupation previously practiced mostly by women. Tuchman documents how men gradually supplanted women as novelists once novel-writing was perceived as potentially profitable, in part because of changes in the system of publishing and rewarding authors. Drawing on unusual data ranging from the archives of Macmillan and company (London) to an analysis of the lives and accomplishments of authors listed in the Dictionary of National Biography, she shows that rising literacy and the centralization of the publishing industry in London after 1840 increased literary opportunities and fostered men’s success as novelists. Men redefined the nature of a good novel and applied a double standard in critically evaluating literary works by men and by women. They also received better contracts than women for novels of equivalent quality and sales. They were able to accomplish this, says Tuchman, because they were to a large extent the culture brokers – the publishers, publishers’ readers, and reviewers of an elite art form. Both a sociological study of occupational gender transformation and a historical study of writing and publishing, this book will be a rich resource for students of the sociology of culture, literary criticism, and women’s studies.
Reissuing seminal works originally published between 1979 and 1994, Routledge Library Editions: Women, Feminism and Literature offers a selection of scholarship from a time of great change in feminist studies and literary studies. Topics cover all aspects of women's literature, gender and feminism through literary criticism and the work of women literary theorists.
Jane Gallop's book offers a clear-eyed and comprehensive history of feminist literary criticism. Why, she asks, have we so quickly buried 1970s feminist criticism? What lies buried there? Why do 1990s academic feminists accuse other academic feminists of being 'academic'? Gallop takes the novel approach of structuring her inquiry around anthologies of feminist criticism: twelve important texts that have had a wide impact on more than a decade of scholarship. In reading an anthology as a whole, she typically identifies a central, hegemonic voice (usually that of the editor/s) which would organise all the voices into a unity, and then explores the resistance within that volume to such a unity. Weight is placed behind these internal differences as a wedge against the centrist drive. Around 1981 addresses briefly 'french feminism' and psychoanalytic feminism before focusing on its principal subject: the mainstream of feminist literary criticism, before and after its general acceptance as part of the changing institution of literary studies. This brilliantly illuminates the dilemma of the feminist critic, divided by her allegiance to both feminism and literary studies.
This volume begins with a new essay by Julia Kristeva, 'The Adolescent Novel', in which she examines the relation between novelistic writing and the experience of adolescence as an 'open structure'. It is this blend of the literary with the psychoanalytic that places Kristeva's work central to current thinking, from semiotics and critical theory to feminism and psychoanalysis. The essays in this volume offer insight into the workings of Kristeva's thought, ranging from her analyses of sexual difference, female temporality and the perceptions of the body to the mental states of abjection and melancholia, and their representation in painting and literature. Kristeva's persistent humanity, her profound understanding of the dynamics of intention and creativity, mark her out as one of the leading theoreticians of desire. Each essay offers the reader a new insight into the many aspects that make up Kristeva's entire oeuvre.
Over the past several years, the question of men’s relation to feminism has become a fiercely and sometimes bitterly debated subject. Engendering Mendemonstrates the creative impact that feminist modes of inquiry have already had on a new generation of male critics. In the wake of feminism, many men have found it imperative to begin the task of retheorizing the male position in our culture. This collection of new essays brings together seventeen male critics whose work – on poetry, fiction, the Broadway stage, film and television, and broader cultural and psychoanalytic texts – is opening up new avenues in criticism, as well as in gender and feminist theory.
‘Postmodernism’ and ‘feminism’ have become familiar terms since the 1960s, developing alongside one another and clearly sharing many strong points of contact. Why then have the critical debates arising out of these movements had so little to say about each other? Patricia Waugh addresses the relationship between feminist and postmodernist writing and theory through the insights of psychoanalysis and in the context of the development of modern fiction in Britain and America. She attempts to uncover the reasons why women writers have been excluded from the considerations of postmodern art. Her route takes her through the theorization of self offered by Freud and Lacan and on to the concept of subjectivity articulated by Kleinian and later object-relations psychoanalysts. She argues that much women’s writing has been inappropriately placed and interpreted within a predominantly formalist-orientated aesthetic and a post-Freudian/liberal, individualist conceptualization of subjectivity and artistic expression. This tendency has been intensified in discussions of postmodernism, and a new feminist aesthetic is thus badly needed. In the second part of the book Patricia Waugh analyses the work of six ‘traditional’ and six ‘experimental’ writers, challenging the restrictive definitions of ‘realist’, ‘modernist’, ‘postmodernist’ in the light of the theoretical position developed in part one. Authors covered include: Woolf (viewed as a postmodernist ‘precursor’ rather than a ‘high’ modernist), Drabble, Tyler, Plath, Brookner, Paley, Lessing, Weldon, Atwood, Walker, Spark, Russ, and Piercy.
Recent years have witnessed important new initiatives in the study of popular fictional modes of writing. At one time the field could have been described with reasonable accuracy by two traditions: one that analyzed the production and distribution of popular fiction as commodities; and one whose proponents regarded popular fiction as the negative which offered definition to the exposure of the positive - the 'great' canonic literary tradition. Generally, then, popular fictions were to be 'evaluated' according to the institutionalized norms which had been established as common sense practice around literary studies. The decade of the 1970s, however ushered in a bewildering range of theoretical debates - a crucial gain was establishment of interdisciplinary courses in communication, cultural and media studies, providing a network of contexts within which serious analysis could evolve and progress. Responding to a fundamental challenge from feminism, a primary objective of this book is to propose that all narrative and its reading are intrinsically inflected by sexual politics. Various approaches represented here demonstrate problems of confronting the gendered pleasures of reading. Questions about self, sexuality and identity within specific historical formations are raised. The objective is to frame, describe and unearth the notion of 'men as readers' as a project rather than as the usual, unquestioned normative procedure. Drawing eclectically upon Marxist, psychoanalytic and discourse theory, the essays set out readings of popular texts and genres - the Western, the sentimental novel, detective and crime fiction, political thrillers and horror and science fiction - in the interest of provoking other readers to see the critical study of popular fiction as unthinkable without gender as a central concern.
Women's Theatre Writing in Victorian Britain is the first book to make a comprehensive study of women playwrights in the British theatre from 1820 to 1918. It looks at how women playwrights negotiated their personal and professional identities as writers, and examines the female tradition of playwriting which dramatises the central experience of women's lives around the themes of home, the nation, and the position of women in marriage and the family. The book also includes an extensive Appendix of authors and plays, which will be a useful reference tool for students and scholars in nineteenth-century studies and theatre historians.
This lively and controversial collection of essays sets out to theorize and practice a 'materialist-feminist' criticism of literature and culture. Such a criticism is based on the view that the material conditions in which men and women live are central to an understanding of culture and society. It emphasises the relation of gender to other categories of analysis, such as class and race, and considers the connection between ideology and cultural practice, and the ways in which all relations of power change with changing social and economic conditions. By presenting a wide range of work by major feminist scholars, this anthology in effect defines as well as illustrates the materialist-feminist tendency in current literary criticism. The essays in the first part of the book examine race, ideology, and the literary canon and explore the ways in which other critical discourse, such as those of deconstruction and French feminism, might be useful to a feminist and materialist criticism. The second part of the book contains examples of such criticism in practice, with studies of individual works, writers and ideas. An introduction by the editors situates the collected essays in relation both to one another and to a shared materialist/feminist project. Feminist Criticism and Social Change demonstrates the important contribution of materialist-feminist criticism to our understanding of literature and society, and fulfils a crucial need among those concerned with gender and its relation to criticism.
Taking twenty women writers of the Romantic period, Romanticism and Gender explores a neglected period of the female literary tradition, and for the first time gives a broad overview of Romantic literature from a feminist perspective.