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Literature after Feminism

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Recent commentators have portrayed feminist critics as grim-faced ideologues who are destroying the study of literature. Feminists, they claim, reduce art to politics and are hostile to any form of aesthetic pleasure. Literature after Feminism is the first work to comprehensively rebut such caricatures, while also offering a clear-eyed assessment of the relative merits of Recent commentators have portrayed feminist critics as grim-faced ideologues who are destroying the study of literature. Feminists, they claim, reduce art to politics and are hostile to any form of aesthetic pleasure. Literature after Feminism is the first work to comprehensively rebut such caricatures, while also offering a clear-eyed assessment of the relative merits of various feminist approaches to literature. Spelling out her main arguments clearly and succinctly, Rita Felski explains how feminism has changed the ways people read and think about literature. She organizes her book around four key questions: Do women and men read differently? How have feminist critics imagined the female author? What does plot have to do with gender? And what do feminists have to say about the relationship between literary and political value? Interweaving incisive commentary with literary examples, Felski advocates a double critical vision that can do justice to the social and political meanings of literature without dismissing or scanting the aesthetic.


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Recent commentators have portrayed feminist critics as grim-faced ideologues who are destroying the study of literature. Feminists, they claim, reduce art to politics and are hostile to any form of aesthetic pleasure. Literature after Feminism is the first work to comprehensively rebut such caricatures, while also offering a clear-eyed assessment of the relative merits of Recent commentators have portrayed feminist critics as grim-faced ideologues who are destroying the study of literature. Feminists, they claim, reduce art to politics and are hostile to any form of aesthetic pleasure. Literature after Feminism is the first work to comprehensively rebut such caricatures, while also offering a clear-eyed assessment of the relative merits of various feminist approaches to literature. Spelling out her main arguments clearly and succinctly, Rita Felski explains how feminism has changed the ways people read and think about literature. She organizes her book around four key questions: Do women and men read differently? How have feminist critics imagined the female author? What does plot have to do with gender? And what do feminists have to say about the relationship between literary and political value? Interweaving incisive commentary with literary examples, Felski advocates a double critical vision that can do justice to the social and political meanings of literature without dismissing or scanting the aesthetic.

30 review for Literature after Feminism

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ruby

    Feminist criticism, at its best, continues this opening up of new terrain, this enlargement of our horizons. Literature after feminism is an expanded field, not a diminished one. I loved this book. It's so sensible and Felski keeps opposing either/or arguments, which is something with which I identify very strongly. It's very readable and Felski mentions a wealth of sources and ugh. It's great. [The gushing ends here] I did have a bit of qualm with her usage of the term "Third World literature". I Feminist criticism, at its best, continues this opening up of new terrain, this enlargement of our horizons. Literature after feminism is an expanded field, not a diminished one. I loved this book. It's so sensible and Felski keeps opposing either/or arguments, which is something with which I identify very strongly. It's very readable and Felski mentions a wealth of sources and ugh. It's great. [The gushing ends here] I did have a bit of qualm with her usage of the term "Third World literature". I also think the whole concept of gender could have been questioned much more, but then again I also feel that this book needed to exist so that we could move beyond its conceptions of gender, masculinity and femininity. A wonderful review of feminist literary criticism up to 2003 (and it doesn't feel really outdated yet in 2014/many of its subjects are still super relevant).

  2. 4 out of 5

    Miranda

    "If there are now more women writers included in a typical survey course, if the library spills over with critical volumes on Woolf and Edith Wharton and Toni Morrison, it is because feminist scholars have made a painstaking case for the importance of such writers as writers. In this way, they have influenced what all literary scholars value, not just what feminists value." Felski's survey of the major feminist debates surrounding readership, authorship, plot possibilities, and aesthetic values "If there are now more women writers included in a typical survey course, if the library spills over with critical volumes on Woolf and Edith Wharton and Toni Morrison, it is because feminist scholars have made a painstaking case for the importance of such writers as writers. In this way, they have influenced what all literary scholars value, not just what feminists value." Felski's survey of the major feminist debates surrounding readership, authorship, plot possibilities, and aesthetic values was clear, comprehensive, and a joy to read. 10/10 would recommend for anyone interested in feminist literary scholarship, but particularly for anyone teaching a survey course (or anyone who needs to explain to a conservative family member why feminism has "expanded" rather than "diminished" life and literature).

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tara Calaby

    The clear language in this one was a delight to read. It does a good job of examining the past and the present (as of 2003) of feminist criticism and isn't afraid to point out where there have been failures. I would've liked a little more direction towards how to do feminist criticism well, but that's probably just me wanting to be pushed in the right direction ;) The clear language in this one was a delight to read. It does a good job of examining the past and the present (as of 2003) of feminist criticism and isn't afraid to point out where there have been failures. I would've liked a little more direction towards how to do feminist criticism well, but that's probably just me wanting to be pushed in the right direction ;)

  4. 4 out of 5

    Trilby O'Farrell

    A good, accessible introduction to feminist literary theory and criticism.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Standlee

    Partially read, fall 2019

  6. 5 out of 5

    Just This

    lucid, readable & thought-provoking investigation into feminist literary criticism

  7. 5 out of 5

    eme

    3.5 I didn't think I was going to enjoy this book this much. I thought it was going to be a little feminazi, but her opinions were always very sensible and well-argued. Overall, pretty enjoyable. 3.5 I didn't think I was going to enjoy this book this much. I thought it was going to be a little feminazi, but her opinions were always very sensible and well-argued. Overall, pretty enjoyable.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Cat

    I love Rita Felski. I am absolutely giddy that she alluded to Educating Rita, a play I directed in college, extensively in the last chapter of the book when she discusses literary value and that she spent a great deal of time analyzing Margaret Atwood books that I love in her chapter on plots. But even more than these overlaps with my personal tastes, I am impressed with the book because of her finely chiseled prose style -- never a word out of place -- her balanced assessments, and strong chapte I love Rita Felski. I am absolutely giddy that she alluded to Educating Rita, a play I directed in college, extensively in the last chapter of the book when she discusses literary value and that she spent a great deal of time analyzing Margaret Atwood books that I love in her chapter on plots. But even more than these overlaps with my personal tastes, I am impressed with the book because of her finely chiseled prose style -- never a word out of place -- her balanced assessments, and strong chapter structures. I think I would hand this book to any incoming doctoral student who wanted to work on feminist criticism, and I would certainly give it to an interested undergraduate or even non-academic who wanted to know what kinds of things feminist criticism can do, what kinds of perspectives (whether warring, coinciding, or utterly diverging) feminist scholars bring to texts. She also does a wonderful job addressing popular (and scholarly!) misconceptions about feminist criticism. The litany of insults that have been thrown at feminist criticism makes the opening paragraph of her book crackle with energy and amusement, as well as providing a tacit explanation for why such an explanatory volume is necessary. Felski's bibliography and notes give a fabulous list of sources to raid. This book doesn't offer a presiding argument -- more of a presiding appreciation for the work that feminist thought does in the classroom, in the canon, and in scholarship. Some of her concepts were also helpful building blocks for thinking about criticism; for example, the idea of the allegory of the woman writer -- that these models of authorship do not define women writers exclusively but often function as presiding metaphors in studies of women's literary history. Felski is also given to sly deflations of popular metaphors or trends. She's also generous to scholars doing work that she finds interesting, and she offers compelling reasons to pursue the areas of inquiry she does find interesting. A readable, teacherly book detailing the pleasures (and sometimes pitfalls!) of feminist literary criticism while offering many pleasures of its own. One of my favorite lines: "Woolf, it turns out, may be as intent on fragmenting unions as she is on unifying fragments."

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ben Adams

    Felski's book is engagingly readable and provides another much needed contribution to literary criticism that steers a middle ground between, on the one hand, practical and theoretical insights and, on the other, between the sociopolitical and purely aesthetic significance of literary art. She summarises and defends the history of feminist criticism from reactionary charges that it has 'sucked the life' from literary studies by focussing solely on the sociopolitical, while also challenging those Felski's book is engagingly readable and provides another much needed contribution to literary criticism that steers a middle ground between, on the one hand, practical and theoretical insights and, on the other, between the sociopolitical and purely aesthetic significance of literary art. She summarises and defends the history of feminist criticism from reactionary charges that it has 'sucked the life' from literary studies by focussing solely on the sociopolitical, while also challenging those aspects of feminist literary thought which Felski believes are unsustainable - such as the conflation of rightful skepticism about 'universals' with an unwillingness to acknowledge the obvious fact "that art does speak across social boundaries."

  10. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    An excellent summary of feminist criticism and theory. Accessible enough for those who aren't literary experts and would like an overview. An excellent summary of feminist criticism and theory. Accessible enough for those who aren't literary experts and would like an overview.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Natalie

    Despite what my classmates said, I actually kind of enjoyed this book. It's a good introductory critical text. Despite what my classmates said, I actually kind of enjoyed this book. It's a good introductory critical text.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Felicia

    An interesting collection of the literary theories of the past that pertain to feminism and female writings. It is a bit dry, though.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Alison

    Remarkably sensible and clear. Read it when it came out and just re-read it and was impressed with its freshness.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Raisu

    I want to passionately disagree with some parts of this book, but that doesn't make me love it any less. I want to passionately disagree with some parts of this book, but that doesn't make me love it any less.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Leighton

  16. 5 out of 5

    Angie

  17. 4 out of 5

    renee

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kendra L.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jen

  20. 4 out of 5

    Maureen

  21. 5 out of 5

    Maria Ferrandez

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jenna Monaco

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ellen

  24. 5 out of 5

    Maxine

  25. 4 out of 5

    Adrienne

  26. 4 out of 5

    Vivian

  27. 5 out of 5

    Zoƫ

  28. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

  29. 5 out of 5

    Blake

  30. 5 out of 5

    Adebe De

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