ABC-CLIO/Greenwood - Reference

Women in Literature

Reading through the Lens of Gender

by Jerilyn Fisher, Ellen S. Silber


Fresh insights and interpretations makes these 96 original essays a valuable examination of gender issues in both canonical and contemporary works.

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Cover image for Women in Literature

June 2003


Pages 384
Volumes 1
Size 7x10
Topics Women's Studies/General

With the literary canon consisting mostly of works created by and about men, the central perspective is decidedly male. This unique reference offers alternate approaches to reading traditional literature, as well as suggestions for expanding the canon to include more gender sensitive works. Covering 96 of the most frequently taught works of fiction, essays offer teachers, librarians, and students fresh insights into the female perspective in literature. The list of titles, created in consultation with educators, includes classic works by male authors like Dickens, Faulkner, and Twain, balanced with works by female authors such as Kate Chopin's The Awakening and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.

Also included are contemporary works by writers such as Alice Walker and Margaret Atwood that are being incorporated into the curriculum, as well as those advancing a more global view, such as Sandra Cisneros' House on Mango Street and Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart. The essays are expertly written in an accessible language that will help students gain greater awareness of gender-related themes. Suggestions for classroom discussions—with selected works for further study—are incorporated into the entries. The volume is organized alphabetically by title and includes both author and subject indexes. An appendix of gender-related themes further enhances this volume's usefulness for curriculum applications and student research projects.

Table of Contents

ForewordIntroductionEssaysSexuality as Rebellion in George Orwell's 1984 by Paul BailWoman's Roles and Influence in Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Melissa PennellThe War Against the Feminine: Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front by Mary Warner"Doctor She": Helena and Sisterhood in Shakespeare's All's Well that Ends Well by Terry ReillyMother, Wife, Fallen Woman: Marital Choice in Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina by Lucy MelbourneRighteous Activist or Confrontational Madwoman: Sophocles' Antigone by Karen BovardFemale Resistance to Gender Conformity in Kate Chopin's The Awakening by Dana KinnisonMothers and Children in Barbara Kingsolver's The Bean Trees by Mary Jean DeMarrFaulkner's Male Myth: The Bear by Kim Martin LongMore Than Skin Deep: Robin McKinley's Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast by Ellen R. SackelmanSylvia Plath's The Bell Jar: Trapped by the Feminist Mystique by Laurie LeachToni Morrison's Beloved: Maternal Possibilities, Sisterly Bonding, by Monika ElbertRichard Wright's Black Boy and Black Women by Kenneth FloreyCulture, Tradition, Family: Gender Roles in Rudolfo Anaya's Bless Me, Ultima by Montye P. FuseGirls into Women: Culture, Nature, and Self-Loathing in Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye by Barbara Frey WaxmanFounding Women's History: Christine de Pizan Writes The Book of the City of Ladies by Ellen S. SilberA Dystopic Vision of Gender in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World by Cristie L. MarchAn Immigrant Girl's Quest for the American Dream in Anzia Yezierska's Bread Givers by Norah C. ChaseAs My Mother Says: Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwige Danticat by Eileen BurchellNon-Conformists and Traditionalists: Buchi Emecheta's The Bride Price by Osayimwense OsaThe Symbolic Annihilation of Women in Jack London's The Call of the Wild by Michelle Napierski-PranclGeoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales: Gender in the Middle Ages by Michael G. CorneliusSex, Violence, and Peter Pan: J. D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye by PaulBailPaths to Liberation in Alice Walker's The Color Purple by Ernece B. KellyThe Women in Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment by Sydney SchultzeWitchhunting, Thwarted Desire, and Girl Power: Authur Miller's The Crucible by Karen Bovard"A Nice Girl Ought to Know!": Henry James's Daisy Miller by Laurie F. LeachRedefining Female Absense in Death of a Salesman by Dana KinnisonBlack and White Womanhood in Sherely Anne Williams' Dessa Rose: Mammies, Ladies, and Rebels by Beverly Guy-SheftallAnne Frank's The Diary of a Young Girl: Writing a Self--The Female Adolescent Voice by Hedda Rosner KopfThe Slammed Door that Still Reverberates: Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House by Ann R. ShapiroFrozen Lives: Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome by Melissa McFarland PennellCatherine Barkley: Ernest Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms by Suzanne del GizzoThe Invisible Black Female Artist in Alice Childress's Florence by Nassim W. BalestriniDaring Creation: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein by Lucy MorrisonShattered Rainbows in Translucent Glass: Tennessee Williams's The Glass Menagerie by Nassim W. BalestriniWhat It Means to Be a Lady: Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind by Jane MarcellusPatriarchy and Property: Women in Pearl S. Buck's The Good Earth by Eleanor Pamo Expectations at All: Women in Charles Dickens' Great Expectations by James R. Simmons Jr.Beautiful Fools and Hulking Brutes: F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby by Linda C. PelzerReading Between the Lines: Connecting with Gertrude and Ophelia in Hamlet by Elizabeth KlettFreedom Reconsidered: Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale by Magali Cornier MichaelWhen Women Shape the World: Charlotte Perkins Gilman's Herland by Jerilyn FisherGirls and Women in Sandra Cisneros' The House on Mango Street



[f]eminist scholars with wide educational experience offer a wake-up call to teachers and students to identify and correct stereotypical interpretations of both traditional and less familiar literary texts....A reliable handbook for the generalist, this book should interest primarily high school teachers as they prepare syllabi but also possibly beginning college students and their instructors....Lower-division undergraduates and general readers.—Choice

An important contribution to the fields of literature, education, and women's studies; highly recommended for both academic and large public libraries.—Library Journal

^I Women in Literature: Reading Through the Lens of Gender^R would make a wonderful text for continuing education courses for high school English teachers, for adoption as part of the curriculum for teachers-in-train-ing,and,as a handbook or refresher, for college instructors who took women and literature courses as undergraduates. Anyone who took high school or college English in pre-feminist-theory days will also enjoy reading what s/he missed.—Feminist Collections

[e]xcellent anthology of novels and plays that are frequently taught in high school and college English and Humanities classes....^I Women in Literature:Reading Through the Lens of Gender^R would make a wonderful text for continuing education courses for high school English teachers, for adoption as part of the curriculum for teachers-in-training, and, as a handbook or refresher, for college instructors who took women and literature courses as undergraduates. Anyone who took high school or college English in pre-feminist-theory days will also enjoy reading that s/he missed.—School Library Journal

Despite years of feminist criticism, there is still a gap on reference shelves when it comes to a feminine approach to literature. This collection of two- to three page signed essays looking at 96 works of fiction (both canonical works and newer/less familiar titles) is a sorely needed resource....most libraries will want to consider this volume....Teachers looking for ways to shake up their traditional reading lists and students looking for a different approach to some classics will find this book of interest.

Educators interested in helping students understand houw literature is influenced by and viewed through the lens of gender will find this single title invaluable....Teachers willing to risk going beyond the standard curriculum to a deeper level of intellectual rigor will find much within these pages to spark debate and offer new pespectives to their students.—OYA

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