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feminist criticism


Subject Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405168908.2010.x


Feminist criticism has grown mainly out of the modern feminist movement of the 1960s and 1970s, although it found inspiration in earlier works such as Simone de B eauvoir's The Second Sex (1949) and Virginia W oolf's A Room of One's Own (1928). Women of many nationalities have developed its techniques and analyses but the main activity has occurred in the United States and in France. The two early works of de Beauvoir and Woolf exemplify the difference between French- and English-language strands: the French book philosophizes and universalizes, drawing back from narrative, whereas the English one is a literary work which turns often to specific and personal story. Early American feminist criticism of the later 1960s and early 1970s recognized no authority and so is not associated with any one woman or group of women. Nevertheless, it has achieved considerable authority itself by working largely within the universities and, many have charged, colluding with the critical establishment. In its first phase it was flamboyantly engaged and disputed any notion of neutrality in criticism; insisting on yoking personal and political, it often turned the consumption of literature into a kind of therapy, with criticism the account of a personal awakening. Such critics as Kate Millett found much C anon ical literature overtly misogynist and implicated it in woman's political and psychological ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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