Personal life[ edit ] Born Elaine Cottler in Boston , Massachusetts, Showalter pursued an academic career against the wishes of her parents. Her first academic appointment was at Douglass College at Rutgers University. Her father was in the wool business and her mother was a housewife. At age 21, Showalter was disowned by her parents for marrying outside the Jewish faith. The Showalters have two children, Michael Showalter , an actor and comedian, and Vinca Showalter LaFleur , a professional speechwriter. She is the Avalon Foundation Professor Emerita.

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Criticism Introduction Born in , Elaine Showalter is a highly influential American feminist critic. She coined the term gynocriticism, which is an extremely useful and quite a common word in feminist studies these days. By this term, Showalter is referring to the literary framework that is going to assess the works of female authors and focuses on critiquing their work without using the terminologies used and developed by male critics and author, as using that sets the women writers at disadvantage.

Female Literary Canon Through gynocriticism, Showalter is basically trying to form a female literary canon by studying and bringing into the light of various women writers who have been forgotten under the dominance of western canon that predominately contains male writers.

Her idea is that the female canon is already present and we only need to discover these great works by female writers, to understand their worth and the contribution they would make to literature. This is something extensively done by Showalter in her research of various female writers of the Victorian period. Although Showalter accepts that, women writing, like any other writing from an oppressed class is, in its initial phases, more imitative in nature. It heavily draws from the ideas and values of the dominant culture or group.

Phase of Protest The second phase is called the phase of protest or the feminist phase. In this phase, as Showalter argues, is where we see women writing more rebellious in nature that is trying to protest the male authority and all the values and standards associated with this mentality, a sort of fight for freedom and autonomy.

This could be used to refer to after the Victorian age is over. Mainly the female writers that emerged in the modernist movement could be suitably put in this phase. Phase of Self-realisation The third phase is called the female phase, or the phase of self-realization and self-discovery. The female writers of this phase, were neither imitating the eminent male writers and their style, nor were just focused to oppose the male authority to gain political and individual freedom, but were trying to celebrate the very nature and essence of what constitutes the female self, their body and sexuality and in a way truly coming close to their life.

Like Woolf, Showalter also emphasises the importance of having a female literary tradition by studying the works of the female writers that have been neglected in the study of literary history.


Elaine Showalter

History[ edit ] While previous figures like Virginia Woolf and Simone de Beauvoir had already begun to review and evaluate the female image in literature, [2] and second-wave feminism had explored phallocentrism and sexism through a female reading of male authors, gynocriticism was designed as a "second phase" in feminist criticism — turning to a focus on, and interrogation of female authorship, images, the feminine experience and ideology, and the history and development of the female literary tradition. The uncovering of the female subculture and exposition of a female model is the intention of gynocriticism, [3] comprising recognition of a distinct female canon where a female identity is sought free from the masculine definitions and oppositions. Poststructuralists complained that it fetishized the role of the author , at the expense of the reader and the text, and that its grand narrative, setting up a female canon in opposition to the male, was essentialist , and omitted differences and divisions among women, leaving out lesbians and women of color , for example.





Gynocriticism A Brief Note


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