Feminist Literary Criticism

Feminist literary criticism is literary criticism informed by feminist theory, or by the politics of feminism more broadly. Its history has been broad and varied, from classic works of nineteenth-century women authors such as George Eliot and Margaret Fuller to cutting-edge theoretical work in women's studies and gender studies by "third-wave" authors. In the most general and simple terms, feminist literary criticism before the 1970s—in the first and second waves of feminism—was concerned with the politics of women's authorship and the representation of women's condition within literature.

Since the development of more complex conceptions of gender and subjectivity and third-wave feminism, feminist literary criticism has taken a variety of new routes, namely in the tradition of the Frankfurt School's critical theory. It has considered gender in the terms of Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalysis, as part of the deconstruction of existing relations of power, and as a concrete political investment. It has been closely associated with the birth and growth of queer studies. The more traditionally central feminist concern with the representation and politics of women's lives has continued to play an active role in criticism.

Lisa Tuttle has defined feminist theory as asking "new questions of old texts." She cites the goals of feminist criticism as: (1) To develop and uncover a female tradition of writing, (2) to interpret symbolism of women's writing so that it will not be lost or ignored by the male point of view, (3) to rediscover old texts, (4) to analyze women writers and their writings from a female perspective, (5) to resist sexism in literature, and (6) to increase awareness of the sexual politics of language and style.

Read more about Feminist Literary Criticism:  Feminist Literary Critics

Famous quotes containing the words literary criticism, feminist, literary and/or criticism:

    Much literary criticism comes from people for whom extreme specialization is a cover for either grave cerebral inadequacy or terminal laziness, the latter being a much cherished aspect of academic freedom.
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    Most young black females learn to be suspicious and critical of feminist thinking long before they have any clear understanding of its theory and politics.... Without rigorously engaging feminist thought, they insist that racial separatism works best. This attitude is dangerous. It not only erases the reality of common female experience as a basis for academic study; it also constructs a framework in which differences cannot be examined comparatively.
    bell hooks (b. c. 1955)

    We that write & print have all our books predestinated—& and for me, I shall write such things as the Great Publisher of Mankind ordained ages before he published “The World”Mthis planet, I mean—not the Literary Globe.
    Herman Melville (1819–1891)

    It is the will of God that we must have critics, and missionaries, and Congressmen, and humorists, and we must bear the burden. Meantime, I seem to have been drifting into criticism myself. But that is nothing. At the worst, criticism is nothing more than a crime, and I am not unused to that.
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