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18 books about Femininity in literature
Results by Title
18 books about Femininity in literature
BiblioVault ® 2001 - 2023
The University of Chicago Press
Armed Ambiguity is a fascinating examination of the tropes of the woman warrior constructed by print culture—including press reports, novels, dramatic works, and lyrical texts—during the decades-long conflict in Europe around 1800.
In it, Julie Koser sheds new light on how women’s bodies became a battleground for competing social, cultural, and political agendas in one of the most pivotal periods of modern history. She traces the women warriors in this work as reflections of the social and political climate in German-speaking lands, and she reveals how literary texts and cultural artifacts that highlight women’s armed insurrection perpetuated the false dichotomy of "public" versus "private" spheres along a gendered fault line. Koser illuminates how reactionary visions of "ideal femininity" competed with subversive fantasies of new femininities in the ideological battle being waged over the restructuring of German society.
From the 1860s through the early twentieth century, Great Britain saw the rise of the department store and the institutionalization of a gendered sphere of consumption. Come Buy, Come Buy considers representations of the female shopper in British women’s writing and demonstrates how women’s shopping practices are materialized as forms of narrative, poetic, and cultural inscription, showing how women writers emphasize consumerism as productive of pleasure rather than the condition of seduction or loss. Krista Lysack examines works by Christina Rossetti, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, George Eliot, and Michael Field, as well as the suffragette newspaper Votes for Women, in order to challenge the dominant construction of Victorian femininity as characterized by self-renunciation and the regulation of appetite.
Come Buy, Come Buy considers not only literary works, but also a variety of archival sources (shopping guides, women’s fashion magazines, household management guides, newspapers, and advertisements) and cultural practices (department store shopping, shoplifting and kleptomania, domestic economy, and suffragette shopkeeping). With this wealth of sources, Lysack traces a genealogy of the woman shopper from dissident domestic spender to aesthetic connoisseur, from curious shop-gazer to political radical.
By November 1822, the British reading public had already voraciously consumed both Walter Scott’s expensive novels and Rudolf Ackermann’s exquisite lithographs. The next decade, referred to by some scholars as dormant and unproductive, is in fact bursting with Forget Me Nots, Friendship’s Offerings, Keepsakes, and Literary Souvenirs. By wrapping literature, poetry, and art into an alluring package, editors and publishers saturated the market with a new, popular, and best-selling genre, the literary annual. In Forget Me Not, Katherine D. Harris assesses the phenomenal rise of the annual and its origins in other English, German, and French literary forms as well as its social influence on women, its redefinition of the feminine, and its effects on late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century print culture. Harris adopts an interdisciplinary approach that uses textual and social contexts to explore a forum of subversive femininity, where warfare and the masculine hero were not celebrated.
Initially published in diminutive, decoratively bound volumes filled with engravings of popularly recognized artwork and “sentimental” poetry and prose, the annuals attracted a primarily middle-class female readership. The annuals were released each November, making them an ideal Christmas gift, lover’s present, or token of friendship. Selling more than 100,000 copies during each holiday season, the annuals were accused of causing an epidemic and inspiring an “unmasculine and unbawdy age” that lasted through 1860 and lingered in derivative forms until the early twentieth century in both the United States and Europe. The annual thrived in the 1820s and after despite—or perhaps because of—its “feminine” writing and beautiful form.
An investigation into Wharton’s extensive use and adaptation of the Gothic in her fiction
Gender and the Gothic in the Fiction of Edith Wharton is an innovative study that provides fresh insights into Wharton’s male characters while at the same time showing how Wharton’s imagining of a fe/male self evolves throughout her career. Using feminist archetypal theory and theory of the female Gothic, Kathy A. Fedorko shows how Wharton, in sixteen short stories and six major novels written during four distinct periods of her life, adopts and adapts Gothic elements to explore the nature of feminine and masculine ways of knowing and being and to dramatize the tension between them.
Edith Wharton’s contradictory views of women and men—her attitudes toward the feminine and the masculine—reflect a complicated interweaving of family and social environment, historical time, and individual psychology. Studies of Wharton have exhibited this same kind of contradiction, with some seeing her as disparaging men and the masculine and others depicting her as disparaging women and the feminine. The use of Gothic elements in her fiction provided Wharton, who was often considered the consummate realist, with a way to dramatize the conflict between feminine and masculine selves as she experienced them and to evolve an alternative to the dualism.
Fedorko’s work is unique in its careful consideration of Wharton’s sixteen Gothic works, which are seldom discussed. Further, the revelation of how these Gothic stories are reflected in her major realistic novels. In the novels with Gothic texts, Wharton draws multiple parallels between male and female protagonists, indicating the commonalities between women and men and the potential for a female self. Eventually, in her last completed novel and her last short story, Wharton imagines human beings who are comfortable with both gender selves.
Sophisticated and tightly argued, Impressionist Subjects is a substantial contribution to the reassessment and expansion of the modernist fiction canon.
Exchanges of women between men occur regularly in Greek tragedy—and almost always with catastrophic results. Instead of cementing bonds between men, such exchanges rend them. They allow women, who should be silent objects, to become monstrous subjects, while men often end up as lifeless corpses. But why do the tragedies always represent the transferal of women as disastrous?
Victoria Wohl offers an illuminating analysis of the exchange of women in Sophocles' Trachiniae, Aeschylus' Agamemnon, and Euripides' Alcestis. She shows how the attempts of women in these plays to become active subjects rather than passive objects of exchange inevitably fail. While these failures seem to validate male hegemony, the women's actions, however futile, blur the distinction between male subject and female object, calling into question the very nature of the tragic self. What the tragedies thus present, Wohl asserts, is not only an affirmation of Athens' reigning ideologies (including its gender hierarchy) but also the possibility of resistance to them and the imagination of alternatives.
Of all the images to arise from the Harlem Renaissance, the most thought-provoking were those of the mulatta. For some writers, artists, and filmmakers, these images provided an alternative to the stereotypes of black womanhood and a challenge to the color line. For others, they represented key aspects of modernity and race coding central to the New Negro Movement. Due to the mulatta’s frequent ability to pass for white, she represented a variety of contradictory meanings that often transcended racial, class, and gender boundaries.
In this engaging narrative, Cherene Sherrard-Johnson uses the writings of Nella Larsen and Jessie Fauset as well as the work of artists like Archibald Motley and William H. Johnson to illuminate the centrality of the mulatta by examining a variety of competing arguments about race in the Harlem Renaissance and beyond.
When James Lane Allen defined the “Feminine Principle” and the “Masculine Principle” in American fiction for the Atlantic Monthly in 1897, he in effect described local color fiction and naturalism, two branches of realism often regarded as bearing little relationship to each other. In this award-winning study of both movements, Resisting Regionalism explores the effect the cultural dominance of women’s local color fiction in the 1890’s had on young male naturalist writers, who rebelled against the local colorists and their “teacup tragedies.”
An immensely popular genre, local color fiction reached its peak in the 1880s in such literary journals as Harper’s Monthly, Scribner’s, the Atlantic Monthly, and the Century. These short stories exhibited local “characters,” depicted marginal groups and vanishing folkways, and addressed issues of absence, loss, limitation, and the past. Despite such prickly themes, according to Donna Campbell, local color fiction “fulfilled some specific needs of the public – for nostalgia, for a retreat into mildly exotic locales, for a semblance of order preserved in ritual.”
By the turn of the century, however, local color fiction was fading from the scene, supplanted by writers of adventure fiction and historical romances, with whom local colorists increasingly merged, and opposed by the naturalists. In examining this historic shift, Resisting Regionalism shows that far from being distanced from local color fiction, nationalism emerged in part as a dissenting response to its popularity and to the era’s concerns about the dominance of feminine influence in American literature. The new generation of authors, including Crane, Norris, London, Frederic, Wharton, resisted the cultural myths and narrative strategies common to local colorists Sarah Orne Jewett, Rose Terry Cooke, Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, and Constance Fenimore Woolson. Yet, as Campbell underscores in her analysis of Stephan Crane’s The Monster, the naturalists could, and did, integrate local color conventions with the grotesque and horrifying to powerful effect.
In clear, accessible prose, Resisting Regionalism provides fresh readings of naturalistic works in the context of the dispute between local color and naturalism. In the process, this book shows the debt naturalism owes to local color fiction and illuminates a neglected but significant literary era.
Subjects on Display explores a recurrent figure at the heart of many nineteenth-century English novels: the retiring, self-effacing woman who is conspicuous for her inconspicuousness. Beth Newman draws upon both psychoanalytic theory and recent work in social history as she argues that this paradoxical figure, who often triumphs over more dazzling, eye-catching rivals, is a response to the forces that made personal display a vexed issue for Victorian women. Chief among these is the changing socioeconomic landscape that made the ideal of the modest woman outlive its usefulness as a class signifier even as it continued to exert moral authority.
This problem cannot be grasped in its full complexity, Newman shows, without considering how the unstable social meanings of display interacted with psychical forces-specifically, the desire to be seen by others that is central to both masculine and feminine subjectivity. This desire raises an issue that feminist theorists have been reluctant to address: the importance of pleasure in being the object of the look. Their reluctance is characteristic of cultural theory, which has tended to equate subjectivity with the position of the observer rather than the observed.
Through a consideration of fiction by Charlotte Brontë, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, and Henry James, Newman shifts the inquiry toward the observed in the experience of being seen. In the process she reopens the question of the gaze and its relation to subjectivity.
Subjects on Display will appeal to scholars and students in several disciplines as it returns psychoanalysis to a central position within literary and cultural studies.
Throughout the twentieth century and continuing today, personifications of Russia as a bride occur in a wide range of Russian texts and visual representations, from literature and political and philosophical treatises to cartoons and tattoos. Invariably, this metaphor functions in the context of a political gender allegory, which represents the relationships between Russia, the intelligentsia, and the Russian state, as a competition of two male suitors for the former’s love.
In Unattainable Bride Russia, Ellen Rutten focuses on the metaphorical role the intelligentsia plays as Russia’s rejected or ineffectual suitor. Rutten finds that this metaphor, which she covers from its prehistory in folklore to present-day pop culture references to Vladimir Putin, is still powerful, but has generated scarce scholarly consideration. Unattainable Bride Russia locates the cultural thread and places the political metaphor in a broad contemporary and social context, thus paying it the attention to which it is entitled as one of Russia’s modern cultural myths.
"What if truth were a woman?" asked Nietzsche. In ancient Greek thought, truth in language has a special relation to the female by virtue of her pre-eminent art-form--the one Freud believed was even invented by women--weaving. The essays in this book explore the implications of this nexus: language, the female, weaving, and the construction of truth.
The Homeric bard--male, to be sure--inherits from Indo-European culture the designation of his poetry as a weaving, the female's art. Like her tapestries, his "texts" can suspend, reverse, and re-order time. He can weave the content from one world into the interstices of another.
The male poet shares the ambiguous power of the female Muses whose speech he channels. "We can say false things like to real things, and whenever we wish, we can utter the truth."
BiblioVault ® 2001 - 2023
The University of Chicago Press