Before feminist literary criticism emerged in the 1970s, the nineteenth-century United States writer
Fanny Fern was regarded by most critics (when considered at all) as a prototype of weepy
sentimentalism—a pious, insipid icon of conventional American culture. Feminist reclamations of
Fern, by contrast, emphasize her nonsentimental qualities, particularly her sharply humorous social
criticism. Most feminist scholars find it difficult to reconcile Fern’s sardonic social critiques with her
effusive celebrations of many conventional values.
Attempting to resolve this contradiction,
Harris concludes that Fern employed flowery rhetoric strategically to disguise her
subversive goals beneath apparent conventionality.
However, Tompkins proposes an
alternative view of sentimentality itself, suggesting that sentimental writing could serve radical,
rather than only conservative ends by swaying readers emotionally, moving them to embrace
Consider each of the choices separately and select all that apply.
1. The passage suggests which of the following about the contradiction mentioned in the
A. It was not generally addressed by critics before the 1970s.
B. It is apparent in only a small number of Ferns writings.
C. It has troubled many feminist critics who study Fern.