wk 6 pull points LIT 200.rtf - LIT 200 wk6 Lecture notes...

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LIT 200 wk6 Lecture notesFeminism as a critical approach to literature, however, accompanied second-wave feminism inthe 1960s and 1970s, which promoted the idea that women’s everyday lives were impacted bylarger sexist power structures, something a feminist theory of literature also emphasizesBecause Western society, and in fact much of the world, has been governed by patriarchal(maledominated) societies for a considerable length of time, most literature has been written bymen about men’s experiences; think of the well-known main characters and heroes of literature:Achilles, Hamlet, Don Quixote. Most are men. When women exist in these works, they are oftennot only secondary characters but embody any number of sexist stereotypes of women aspassive, helpless, sexualized, or irrationalFLAW: A danger of this is that readers can assume what they see in literary works reflects thenormal state of affairs rather than something that has been constructed to oppress women.Readers, past and present, can easily assume that these representations of men and women aretrue and can accept them as normal. Thus, literature that presents negative perceptions ofimagined women has shaped societal perceptions of real women and their lives.Part of the agenda of feminist theory is to expose the false and negative images of women thathave been set up to achieve patriarchal aims, like denying women power. Feminist readers seesigns of this oppression in works of literature, similar to how Marxist critics identify contentpromoting the capitalist class system. Like Marxists, feminist readers also look for signs ofresistance to oppression, such as positive representations of women in literary worksMore broadly, feminist theory allows us to study literature, in a New Historicist sort of way,for attitudes toward women, either of a particular author or of the time in which the authorwrote, to get an understanding of why such perspectives existed.Another aspect of feminist theory is reclamation. It is not simply that the greatest works ofliterature are written by men like Shakespeare and Hemingway, but we have been told this is thecase, and there have been fewer opportunities for women to write and publish their work in thepast. To help remedy this, feminist theorists have brought to light the writing ofunderappreciated female authors whose content was less known because of sexist attitudes. Asa result, rediscovered literary works by female authors have greatly enriched the collection of

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Term
Fall
Professor
Kate Delany

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