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Feminist literary criticism

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-N023-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved June 15, 2024, from

Article Summary

Feminist literary criticism looks at literature assuming its production from a male-dominated perspective. It re-examines canonical works to show how gender stereotypes are involved in their functioning. It examines (and often rediscovers) works by women for a possible alternative voice. A study of the social suppression and minimalization of women’s literature becomes necessary. These questions emerge: What is sexual difference and how has it been represented? How has the representation of woman relied on a presupposition of inequality between the sexes? Is there a feminine essence, biological or otherwise, that produces ‘women’s writing’? Feminists who believe that a ‘woman’ is culturally or socially constructed look for evidence of that process in literature. The socio-cultural and politico-economic construction of sexual difference is ‘gender.’ A study of the difference between sexual and gender difference can establish alliances with gay and lesbian studies. Feminist criticism sometimes relates to psychoanalysis and/or Marxism, criticizing their masculinism and using their resources. It expands into film/video as well as social-scientific or philosophical texts. Feminists sensitive to racism and imperialism demonstrate the culture-specificity of all of the above.

Citing this article:
Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty. Feminist literary criticism, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-N023-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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