Gr.12 English: Literary Theories

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February 11, 2013
Feminist Literary Theory
History of Female Writing
* Before the 20th century, there were very few female writers * Most were from the 18th-19th century
* Back then, writing was seen as an important task
* Hence the reason why writing was a “male task”
* Women had a lack of authority
* Plenty of male literature
* Male bias, stereotypes
Waves of Feminism
1. Late 1700s – early 1900s
* Mary Wollstonecraft wrote Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792) * Women’s suffrage movement (right to vote)

2. Early 1060s - late 1970s
* Focus on equality in the workforce
* Eg.) Simone de Beauvoir (1972)

3. Early 1990s – today
* Second wave was very “white” (middle class white women) * This was an expansion of the second wave
* Which focused more on race, gender and sexual orientation Feminist Criticism
* 1950s to 1960s criticism was mostly done by men, but the second wave of feminism was challenging this * The political movement that allowed the challenging of the roles of women in literature and the literary world * Women claimed that men were writing the roles of women

* Women were marginalized and disempowered, was all about reclaiming power for women * Issue with the Western Canon were pointed out
* Traditionalists were men who decided which piece of literature is important * Eg.) Virginia Woolf (20th century). They were bringing back the literature written by women that was previously ignored * Women would begin to critique patriarchy (male dominance)

Characteristics of Feminist Criticism
* Goal: to examine the impact of gender on text
* 1. How men write about women
* 2. How women read and interpret text
* 3. How does feminine language and creativity differ from male language and creativity? Stereotypes
* Women typically portrayed in stereotypes (the wife, mother, daughter, temptress, sweethearts) * How gender roles are written, men impose these identities on women * Said that it’s unnatural, manmade

* Harmful because they distort reality
* Eg.) Twilight: aww it’s so cute that he watches me sleep so romantic. No. it’s creepy and stalkerish) * Impose artificial identities
* Eg.)Hilary Clinton. If a women is powerful, then society labels her as “bitchy” and animalistic * Determine expected modes of behaviour (this is how a wife should act) * Stereotypes have created expectations for men and women * Goal of stereotypes is to control both women and men

* Eg.)Men should be like this… Women should be like this… Presentation of Women in Literature
1. Passive/ Victimized Characters:
* Little/no control of their lives
* Damsels in distress
2. Morally Weak/Evil:
* Wicked witch
Goals of Feminine Literary Theory
1. Deconstruct the male construction of power, to allow women to escape that power 2. Challenge patriarchal biases and sexual stereotypes
3. Challenge the Western Canon and reinterpret qualifications for membership (in the Western Canon) 4. Give women more power as writers and as realistic characters in text

February 12, 2013
Marxist Theory
Overview
* Developed by Karl Marx (1818-1883), who is known as the father of modern socialism * He and Friedrich Engels wrote The Communist Manifesto (1847) * Das Kapital (1867), was a book more on economic theory

* The Communist Manifesto inspired the Russian Revolution in 1917 * The end of the Czar
* Bolsheviks took over Russia
* Encouraged radical social reform (to help improve the quality of life) * Created the radical social reform (a body of ideas/beliefs) * Interested in socioeconomic factors
Material Dialectic
* The belief that historical change is driven by socioeconomic factors * Materialism
* Creates a class struggle (lower class vs. the rich)
* Believed that literature was allegorical...
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