Lit. Crit. (was: Re: More than you ever wanted to know (was R e: answers from Diana))

Rowland, Jennifer A B jennifer.rowland at ic.ac.uk
Tue Jun 5 11:56:09 EDT 2001


Melissa wrote:
>> which I still can't say or write or read with a straight face.  (Feminist
>> criticism is good, serious stuff, but I am not a serious person and it
just
>> didn't matter to me very much.)  Out of all this, I ended up with a
>> mish-mash of ideas.

Philip wrote:
>At the risk of getting into a major argument here, though, I have little
time
>for this idea that it is necessary to study things from a "feminist" point
of
>view.  I have every sympathy for the cause of Women's Liberation, but this
idea
>that there must be "feminist" criticism, "feminist" this that and the
other,
>makes me want to sign up for Men's Lib at the next opportunity.  What
happened
>to balanced viewpoints (even assuming that objectivity is impossible)?
Sorry.
>End of rant.

The reason that feminist criticism evolved in the first place, though, *was*
to provide a balancing viewpoint- ie, the work that had been done up till
then was, in their opinion, from a masculine point of view- masquerading as
the One True Objective View. The canon of great authors that had been set up
was mostly DWEMs, and the people who were analysing them were also WEMs, and
womens'/foreigners'/Others' literature was being defined as Not Great,
because it did not meet the criteria found in the Great Works, and trying to
look at the Great Works with different criteria in mind was not encouraged.
(I think one idea at the time was to read books as standalone icons, and not
consider the mindset of the society that produced them).
NB- proceding is IMO, I have never studied literature.
Feminist analysis has been very useful- it has brought out new things to
look for in books and new ways to look for things. One good thing about
postmodernism (which I normally think is just silly) is the idea that there
is no fixed meaning to the text and no one right way to read it. Given that,
I think having many different schools of analysis is a good thing, as each
brings out different shades of meaning which can enrich one's own reading.
(I don't know much about Marxist criticism, and I suspect "doctrinaire"
Marxism applied to books- how is the class struggle evidenced in "The Time
Of The Ghost"?- would not add much to my enjoyment- but the idea of looking
at the class systems in books seems like a good enough idea.)
Jennifer
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