Still mad : American women writers and the feminist imagination, 1950-2020

by Gilbert, Sandra M.,

Format: Print Book 2021
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Forty years after their first groundbreaking work of feminist literary theory, The Madwoman in the Attic, award-winning collaborators Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar map the literary history of feminism's second wave.

From its stirrings in the midcentury-when Sylvia Plath, Betty Friedan, and Joan Didion found their voices and Diane di Prima, Lorraine Hansberry, and Audre Lorde discovered community in rebellion-to a resurgence in the new millennium in the writings of Alison Bechdel, Claudia Rankine, and N. K. Jemisin, Gilbert and Gubar trace the evolution of feminist literature. They offer lucid, compassionate, and piercing readings of major works by these writers and others, including Adrienne Rich, Ursula K. Le Guin, Maxine Hong Kingston, Susan Sontag, Gloria AnzaldĂșa, and Toni Morrison. Activists and theorists like Nina Simone, Gloria Steinem, Andrea Dworkin, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, and Judith Butler also populate these pages as Gilbert and Gubar examine the overlapping terrain of literature and politics in a comprehensive portrait of an expanding movement.

As Gilbert and Gubar chart feminist gains-including creative new forms of protests and changing attitudes toward gender and sexuality-they show how the legacies of second wave feminists, and the misogynistic culture they fought, extend to the present. In doing so, they celebrate the diversity and urgency of women who have turned passionate rage into powerful writing.

Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "Gilbert and Gubar broke new ground in 1979 with what's now considered a feminist classic, The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination. Observing that "feminism sustains itself as a profoundly imaginative endeavor," these prolific and versatile women writers return to the field with incisive and redefining inquiries into the lives and work of diverse North American literary women who faced "dizzying contradictions" and seemingly insurmountable opposition to propel feminism through the advances and backlashes of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Here are Sylvia Plath, Diane di Prima, Audre Lorde, and Lorraine Hansberry tracking the slow evolution in attitudes toward gender expectations, sexuality, and race. Moving forward in time, Gilbert and Gubar consider how Susan Sontag, Adrienne Rich, Nina Simone, Alice Walker, Maxine Hong Kingston, and many others took on sexual violence, gay rights, nuclear weapons, environmental devastation, and the "feminization and racialization of poverty." Gilbert and Gubar set their pinpoint elucidations within a richly dimensional context, widening the lens to focus on Naomi Wolf, Alison Bechdel, Beyoncé, Claudia Rankine, and N. K. Jemisin. Given humanity's ongoing battles for equality and justice on numerous fronts, Shulamith Firestone's warning is keenly on point: "Power, however it has evolved, whatever its origins, will not be given up without a struggle.""
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "Literary critics Gilbert and Gubar analyze the cultural legacy of feminism's second wave in this comprehensive if uneven update to The Madwoman in the Attic (1979). They place major works by Sylvia Plath, Diane DiPrima, and Audre Lorde in the cultural context of the 1950s and '60s, and dive deep into the feminist literature of the '70s, including the antipatriarchal writings of Kate Millett, the poetry of Adrienne Rich, and the speculative fiction of Ursula K. Le Guin. Reactionary conservatism inspired the emergence of queer theory in the '90s, though the knotty philosophical formulations of scholars including Judith Butler and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick reflected a "growing divide between feminists inside the academy and those outside it." Casting contemporary feminism as a resurgence of the second wave filtered through a broader set of concerns, Gilbert and Gubar discuss Rebecca Solnit's response to mansplaining, Claudia Rankine's emotional connections to the Black Lives Matter movement, and N.K. Jemisin's environmentally centered feminist fantasies. The authors' astute selections and skilled close readings are rewarding, but their devaluing of ideas that have emerged since the '70s will frustrate younger feminists. Still, this is a well-informed and accessible survey of the literature of modern feminism. (Aug.)"
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Additional Information
Subjects American literature -- Women authors -- History and criticism.
Feminism and literature -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
Feminism and literature -- United States -- History -- 21st century.
Women and literature -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
Women and literature -- United States -- History -- 21st century.
American literature -- 20th century -- History and criticism.
American literature -- 21st century -- History and criticism.
Publisher New York, N.Y. :W.W. Norton & Company,2021
Edition First edition.
Contributors Gubar, Susan, 1944- author.
Language English
Description xiii, 441 pages ; 24 cm
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references (pages 359-412) and index.
ISBN 9780393651713
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