Introduction to Literature
Sooner or later in an Introduction to Literature class, we need to discuss "the F word": Feminism. I don't understand statements of this sort:
Who turned "feminist" into a dirty
word? (Probably George Bush and that batch; Pat Robertson occasionally
"witches, lesbians, and feminists.")
criticism, arising in conjunction with sociopolitical feminism,
critiques patriarchal language and literature by exposing how
these reflect masculine ideology. It examines gender politics
in works and traces the subtle construction of masculinity and
femininity, and their relative status, positionings, and marginalizations
Beyond making us aware of the marginalizing
uses of traditional language (the presumptuousness of the pronoun
"he," or occupational words such as "mailman")
feminists focused on language have noticed a stylistic difference
in women's writing: women tend to use reflexive constructions
more than men (e.g., "She found herself crying"). They
have noticed that women and men tend to communicate differently:
men directed towards solutions, women towards connecting.
Feminist criticism concern itself with stereotypical
representations of genders. It also may trace the history of
relatively unknown or undervalued women writers, potentially earning
them their rightful place within the literary canon, and helps
create a climate in which women's creativity may be fully realized
One will frequently hear the term
used among feminist critics, referring to traditional male-dominated
society. "Marginalization" refers to being forced to
the outskirts of what is considered socially and politically significant;
the female voice was traditionally marginalized, or discounted
Abrams, M.H. A Glossary of Literary Terms. 7th ed. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1999.
Biddle, Arthur W., and Toby Fulwiler. Reading, Writing, and the Study of Literature. NY: Random House, 1989.
Lynn, Steven. Texts and Contexts: Writing About Literature with Critical Theory. 2nd ed. NY: Longman, 1998.
Murfin, Ross, and Supryia M. Ray. The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms. Boston: Bedford Books, 1997.