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Presentation on theme: "FEMINIST LITERARY CRITICISM"— Presentation transcript:


2 What is Feminist Literary Criticism?
Definition… Feminist criticism is concerned with the impact of gender on writing and reading.

3 Gender versus Biological Sex
Gender refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviors, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women. Sex refers to the biological or physiological characteristics that define men and women.

4 Stereotypes Gender stereotypes present a conventionally simplified and standardized conceptions or images concerning the typical social roles of males and females, both domestically and socially. Basically, gender stereotypes are beliefs held about characteristics, traits and activity-domains that are “deemed” appropriate for men and women.

5 Gender Stereotypes Female Stereotypes are… Male Stereotypes are…
Should be mothers, nurturers Passive Emotional; over-sensitive Acquiescent Others? Father “bread-winner” Aggressive Strong Dominating / leader

6 Stereotypes: Consider This…

7 Patriarchy is… A social system in which the father is the head of the family and men have authority over women and children. A family, community, or society based on this system is governed by men.

8 What is Feminist Literary Theory?
They say that the oppression of women is an historical fact and that literary texts mirror gender and social attitudes about gender.

9 What is Feminist Literary Theory?
Western civilization is patriarchal. It is male-centered and controlled, and is organized to ensure women remain subordinate to men in all cultural domains.

10 What is Feminist Literary Theory?
Female characters are marginal and subordinate, and are represented as complementary to or in opposition to masculine desires and enterprises.

11 Important terms in Feminist Criticism
Male Chauvinist: A man whose behaviour and attitude towards women indicate a belief that they are innately inferior to men. Marginalize: To regulate to an unimportant or powerless position within a society or group. Historically women have been marginalized (this is reflected in literature) Sexist: Discrimination based on gender, especially discrimination against women (also men!). Attitudes, conditions, or behaviours that promote stereotyping of social roles based on gender. Subordinate: Belonging to a lower or inferior class or rank; secondary Subject to the authority or control of another. Objectification: The presentation of women as “objects” without regard to their personality or dignity. Literature also examines the sexual objectification of women (and men); women become objects of men’s sexual pleasure

12 Characters in Literature What is the portrayal of women by these examples?

13 What they portray . . .

14 Characters in Literature

15 Characters in Literature
Consider these familiar female characters in literature: Desdemona or Portia Katniss or Hermione Vidya or Sabine How are they portrayed in their respective texts?

16 How to Use Feminist Literary Theory
Questions to Consider when analyzing a text from the feminist approach… How do the female characters perceive themselves in the text? How do the male characters perceive the female characters? Is the portrayal of women (or men) sexist? Are there any gender stereotypes portrayed in the text and if so, what are they? Do they give power to a gender, or they suppress a gender? What is the nature of the relationship between the male and female characters? Are there any indications of the author’s attitude toward women? What were the social and historical conditions for women in this period that might help us understand their roles and desires in the text?

17 Working with Feminist Literary Theory
Consider the poem “My Last Duchess” by Robert Browning from a feminist perspective. How does the text and meaning derived differ from that than if it was analyzed from a psychological perspective?


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