Manual The Cambridge Companion to Feminist Literary Theory (Cambridge Companions to Literature)

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We use cookies to distinguish you from other users and to provide you with a better experience on our websites. Close this message to accept cookies or find out how to manage your cookie settings. Feminism is a range of social movements , political movements , and ideologies that share a common goal: to define, establish, and achieve the political, economic, personal, and social equality of the sexes. Livres en Ligne 1er mois gratuit.

Feminist Approach to Literature

Another possibility is the one held out by Johnson's jokes at theory's expense and made explicit in her The Feminist Difference :. Literature, that is, is not to be understood as a predetermined set of works but as a mode of cultural work, the work of giving-to-read those impossible contradictions that cannot yet be spoken. In this last formulation, reading as a mode of work, as attention to the impasse, to the figuration of the impossible, threatens the transparency of categories like the lesbian woman or black women or even gender in postcoloniality. Insofar as such categories imagine identity as rooted in an experience beyond representation, a unified experience given by some unmediated practice and not both formed and undone by language, literature is the site of their deconstruction as well as their renewal.

Feminist reading here begins to complicate and unravel the very premises that first enabled it to get a purchase on textuality.

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Self-questioning and an unwillingness to settle in a single location are characteristic of feminist literary theories. They have not found skepticism to be paralyzing, for it is not only the identity of the woman reading that has been rethought. When feminist readers begin to argue that the women's readings matter to the meanings of literary texts, they are willy-nilly caught up in an argument about the manner in which men read in the present and the past tense.

Indeed, the feminist readers expose, by the difference of their interpretations, the masculinism of prior readings and readers. These prior readings had presented themselves not as the products of men accustomed to masculine privilege so accustomed that their privileges appeared to them simply as nature , but as reading itself, objective, humanistic reading, where men or certain men, to be more precise were presumed to represent the human. Can we argue, then, that when a masculinist reading is exposed as such, we may presume that the agent of that exposure is a feminist critic?

This, whether she is a woman or a man? While the feminist is always someone committed to the exposure of the masculinist whether in the works of men or women , both of these terms — feminist and masculinist — are contested, as is the practice of reading, as I have been arguing. Feminist literary theories, then, are the theories of feminists struggling against masculinism and among themselves over the meanings of literature, reading, and feminism.

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While it is not possible to define the essence of feminist literary theory, there are a range of competing yet characteristic practices that emerge in the course of these struggles. By their presence in this contestatory field, one can recognize the feminist literary theorists. Let us consider just two of the forms that this struggle may take: the interrogation of tradition and the revaluation of the aesthetic. The feminist interrogation of tradition and literary canons has taken multiple forms, and it will come as no surprise that the strategies feminist theorists have adopted are not entirely compatible with each other.

Some critics have approached the problem by nominating marginalized or entirely forgotten women writers for a place within the standard canon, arguing that the excluded writers meet its traditional criteria.

Series: Cambridge Companions to Literature

Others have proposed counter-canons of radically distinct traditions, seeking to dismiss once-revered figures from the syllabus. On the other hand, some feminist theorists have mounted a sharp critique of the very notion of the tradition; they neither seek to place women in hegemonic canons nor to build counter-canons, arguing that any narrative of tradition or traditions will inevitably reinscribe ahistorical and essentialist assumptions about women's experiences. Some feminist theorists propose rivals to the terms of hegemonic masculinist aesthetics, for example, championing sentimentality in the face of modernist distaste and condescension, or defending the marriage plot and a narrative preoccupation with subjectivity against a patriarchal nationalism's preferences for protest literature.

Alternatively, a critique of the aesthetic may involve turning toward once-belittled forms, such as autobiography, slave narrative, diaries and testimonios genres to which women in certain periods and places have had significant access , in order to disclose their substantial but overlooked aesthetic value.

All of these approaches intervene to redefine aesthetic value. But certain feminist critics have dismissed proposals to renovate the aesthetic, relegating aesthetic judgment to the history of taste. From this perspective, aesthetic values are inevitably compromised by ideology. Literary studies should report the facts of literary history understood as the evolution of imaginative discourses over time, just as history proper attends to social discourses. Historians do not dismiss objects of study on the grounds of aesthetic judgments, and the forms of feminist literary theory that emerge from this perspective would follow their lead, taking the form of cultural history.

Even this brief overview confirms that the perspective of the feminist reader has not tamed the heterogeneity of feminist literary theories.

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We can acknowledge the irreducible conflict in the field with the familiar gesture of pluralization: replacing the potentially monolithic concept of feminist literary theory with the multiplicity of feminist literary theories allows us to renounce any effort to totalize them or misrepresent them in a singular form. No approach can summarize this protean body of work or claim to represent it in its totality, and to signal this partiality in the form of the plural is useful. But, as even these two brief examples suggest, the difficulty of defining feminist literary theory is not, in the end, a matter of sheer quantity. Just as feminisms themselves are the work of widely divergent groups of women and men , including women who oppose one another politically, work in different national traditions and transnational interstices, and face divergent social and political challenges, so feminist literary theories arise in multiple, contradictory, and even opposing contexts.

Topics examined include everything from anti-colonial nationalism and decolonisation to globalisation, migration flows, and the 'brain drain' which constitute the past and present of 'the postcolonial condition'. The volume also pays attention to the sociological and ideological conditions surrounding the emergence of postcolonial literary studies as an academic field in the late s and early s.

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The Companion turns an authoritative, engaged and discriminating lens on postcolonial literary studies. Introducing postcolonial studies. Social and Historical Context. Anticolonialism national liberation and postcolonial.