Elaine SHOWALTER (Elaine Showalter)

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  • Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1915) Gilmans clever utopian novel imagines three American men on a scientific expedition who hear tales of a strange and terrible Woman Land in the high distance, and decide to find and invade it. Expecting to rule over the women, the men are astounded, entranced, and defeated by the resourcefulness of an all-female society.
  • The Home-Maker by Dorothy Canfield Fisher (1924) Fisher was a prolific novelist, a judge for the Book of the Month Club, and a pioneer of Montessori education in the U.S. She claimed that The Home-Maker was more about childrens rights than womens rights, but she empathized with all the members of a middle-class family whose lives are being destroyed by the straitjacket of maintaining proper male and female roles. When an accident forces the husband and wife to change places, everyone is much happier. This could be a comic premise--Mr. Mom--but Fisher treats it with seriousness and psychological insight.
  • The Unpossessed by Tess Slesinger (1934) Slesinger used her disillusion with the whole cultural spectrum of the 1930s for her sparkling satire of the New York leftwing editors of a radical magazine. The novel is both a penetrating autobiographical portrait of the divided woman intellectual of the decade, painfully torn between party politics and personal emancipation; and a timeless and very funny lampoon of ideologues driven by vanity, political trendiness, and competition.
  • The Mountain Lion by Jean Stafford (1947) Stafford was at her best in this powerful coming-of-age novel about a young brother and sister, Ralph and Molly Fawcett, who spend their summers at their grandfathers ranch in Colorado. While Ralph is being initiated into adventurous manhood, Molly is fiercely and tragically resisting the dull femininity which lies in store for her.
  • Maud Martha by Gwendolyn Brooks (1953) The only novel by the poet Gwendolyn Brooks, Maud Martha tells the story of a poor black Chicago housewife, in a lyrical form like that of Virginia Woolfs Mrs. Dalloway, but suffused with anger against racism, war, and the daily small tragedies of black womens lives. An American classic.
  • We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson (1962) Long overlooked, Jacksons masterpiece has been rediscovered in the twenty-first century by writers from Stephen King and Jonathan Lethem to Joyce Carol Oates. A perfectly constructed and spine-chilling example of the female gothic, the novel was among the first great stories of the weird girl, part teenage outcast, part witch, as a dark heroine of American horror.
  • The Shadow Knows by Diane Johnson (1974) While Diane Johnsons novels about Americans in Paris (such as Le Divorce) have been bestsellers, The Shadow Knows is my favorite among her books. Set in Northern California in the early 1970s, it is about the racial conflict and paranoia of the decade, and, in Johnsons words, about persons on the fringe; they happen to be women, and what happens to them is meant to be particular to America in the seventies.
  • Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson (1980) In her first novel, Pulitzer-Prize winning writer Robinson traced the lives of three generations of women in the imaginary Idaho town of Fingerbone, which is surrounded by mountains and next to a dark lake. The narrator, Ruth, and her sister, Lucille, are passed from one family caregiver to another; finally, their aunt Sylvie Fisher, a wanderer and transient, comes back to keep house for them. But Sylvies bizarre housekeeping is like something out of a gothic fairy tale, and the sisters find their separate ways to create their own domestic visions.
  • Mona in the Promised Land by Gish Jen (1996) Gish Jen is one of the funniest and most free-wheeling novelists of the multicultural 90s. In Mona in the Promised Land, whose title plays off a long tradition of Jewish-American immigrant writing, the adolescent Chinese-American heroine Mona Chang is at a new stage of ethnic identity, renaming and self-creation. In their own enclave, she and her high school friends exchange food, music, games, and politics. In the promised land, American girls can change their names, their religions, even re-invent their nationalities.
  • More editions of A Jury of Her Peers: American Women Writers from Anne Bradstreet to Annie Proulx:

  • Showalter: A Jury of Her Peers: American Women Writers from Anne Bradstreet to Annie Proulx
  • A Jury of Her Peers: Celebrating American Women Writers from Anne Bradstreet to Annie Proulx (Vintage)
    ISBN 1400034426 (1-4000-3442-6)
    Softcover, Vintage

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    Book summary:

    Book Description
    A Jury of Her Peers is an unprecedented literary landmark: the first comprehensive history of American women writers from 1650 to 2000.

    In a narrative of immense scope and fascination--brimming with Elaine Showalters characteristic wit and incisive opinions--we are introduced to more than 250 female writers. These include not only famous and expected names (Harriet Beecher Stowe, Willa Cather, Dorothy Parker, Flannery OConnor, Gwendolyn Brooks, Grace Paley, Toni Morrison, and Jodi Picoult among them), but also many who were once successful and acclaimed yet now are little known, from the early American best-selling novelist Catherine Sedgwick to the Pulitzer Prizewinning playwright Susan Glaspell. Showalter shows how these writers--both the enduring stars and the ones left behind by the canon--were connected to one another and to their times. She believes it is high time to fully integrate the contributions of women into our American literary heritage, and she undertakes the task with brilliance and flair, making the case for the unfairly overlooked and putting the overrated firmly in their place.

    Whether or not readers agree with the books roster of writers, A Jury of Her Peers is an irresistible invitation to join the debate, to discover long-lost great writers, and to return to familiar titles with a deeper appreciation. It is a monumental work that will greatly enrich our understanding of American literary history and culture.

    Amazon Exclusive: Elaine Showalter's Top Ten Books by American Women Writers You Haven't Read (But Should) Everyone knows the handful of novels by American women writers, from Uncle Toms Cabin to The House of Mirth and Beloved, that make it onto standard reading lists. But there are hundreds of wonderful books by American women that have been underestimated, overlooked, or forgotten.

    Heres my starting guide to ten extraordinary works of fiction--one from each decade of the twentieth century--that deserve to be much better known.

  • The Country of Lost Borders by Mary Hunter Austin (1909) A moving collection of stories emphasizing the California landscape and the vulnerability of women, especially Native American women who were seduced and abandoned by white men in the Wild West. The memorable final story about a mysterious woman in the desert, The Walking Woman, is Austins manifesto of female independence, equality, tenderness, and sorrow.
  • Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1915) Gilmans clever utopian novel imagines three American men on a scientific expedition who hear tales of a strange and terrible Woman Land in the high distance, and decide to find and invade it. Expecting to rule over the women, the men are astounded, entranced, and defeated by the resourcefulness of an all-female society.
  • The Home-Maker by Dorothy Canfield Fisher (1924) Fisher was a prolific novelist, a judge for the Book of the Month Club, and a pioneer of Montessori education in the U.S. She claimed that The Home-Maker was more about childrens rights than womens rights, but she empathized with all the members of a middle-class family whose lives are being destroyed by the straitjacket of maintaining proper male and female roles. When an accident forces the husband and wife to change places, everyone is much happier. This could be a comic premise--Mr. Mom--but Fisher treats it with seriousness and psychological insight.
  • The Unpossessed by Tess Slesinger (1934) Slesinger used her disillusion with the whole cultural spectrum of the 1930s for her sparkling satire of the New York leftwing editors of a radical magazine. The novel is both a penetrating autobiographical portrait of the divided woman intellectual of the decade, painfully torn between party politics and personal emancipation; and a timeless and very funny lampoon of ideologues driven by vanity, political trendiness, and competition.
  • The Mountain Lion by Jean Stafford (1947) Stafford was at her best in this powerful coming-of-age novel about a young brother and sister, Ralph and Molly Fawcett, who spend their summers at their grandfathers ranch in Colorado. While Ralph is being initiated into adventurous manhood, Molly is fiercely and tragically resisting the dull femininity which lies in store for her.
  • Maud Martha by Gwendolyn Brooks (1953) The only novel by the poet Gwendolyn Brooks, Maud Martha tells the story of a poor black Chicago housewife, in a lyrical form like that of Virginia Woolfs Mrs. Dalloway, but suffused with anger against racism, war, and the daily small tragedies of black womens lives. An American classic.
  • We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson (1962) Long overlooked, Jacksons masterpiece has been rediscovered in the twenty-first century by writers from Stephen King and Jonathan Lethem to Joyce Carol Oates. A perfectly constructed and spine-chilling example of the female gothic, the novel was among the first great stories of the weird girl, part teenage outcast, part witch, as a dark heroine of American horror.
  • The Shadow Knows by Diane Johnson (1974) While Diane Johnsons novels about Americans in Paris (such as Le Divorce) have been bestsellers, The Shadow Knows is my favorite among her books. Set in Northern California in the early 1970s, it is about the racial conflict and paranoia of the decade, and, in Johnsons words, about persons on the fringe; they happen to be women, and what happens to them is meant to be particular to America in the seventies.
  • Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson (1980) In her first novel, Pulitzer-Prize winning writer Robinson traced the lives of three generations of women in the imaginary Idaho town of Fingerbone, which is surrounded by mountains and next to a dark lake. The narrator, Ruth, and her sister, Lucille, are passed from one family caregiver to another; finally, their aunt Sylvie Fisher, a wanderer and transient, comes back to keep house for them. But Sylvies bizarre housekeeping is like something out of a gothic fairy tale, and the sisters find their separate ways to create their own domestic visions.
  • Mona in the Promised Land by Gish Jen (1996) Gish Jen is one of the funniest and most free-wheeling novelists of the multicultural 90s. In Mona in the Promised Land, whose title plays off a long tradition of Jewish-American immigrant writing, the adolescent Chinese-American heroine Mona Chang is at a new stage of ethnic identity, renaming and self-creation. In their own enclave, she and her high school friends exchange food, music, games, and politics. In the promised land, American girls can change their names, their religions, even re-invent their nationalities.
  • More editions of A Jury of Her Peers: Celebrating American Women Writers from Anne Bradstreet to Annie Proulx (Vintage):

  • A Literature of Their Own
    ISBN 0691004765 (0-691-00476-5)
    Softcover, Princeton University Press

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    Book summary:

    Readers of this new, enlarged edition of the classic feminist study of British women novelists will find themselves delighted by Elaine Showalter's astute and acerbic critical intelligence. Showalter is one of the few scholars who can make her readers rush to their bookshelves to refute her point, or simply to experience again Jane Eyre, The Mill on the Floss, or the bitterly illuminating stories of Katherine Mansfield. Her chief innovation is to place the works of famous women writers beside those of the minor or forgotten, building a continuity of influence and inspiration as well as a more complete picture of the social conditions in which women's books have been produced. She has added a new introduction recounting, with justifiable pleasure, how daring and controversial her study seemed when it first appeared in 1977 (and how many enemies it made her). In an afterword, she touches on more recent developments in the women's novel in Britain, including the influence of the dazzling Angela Carter. --Regina Marler

  • A Literature of Their Own: British Women Novelists from Bronte to Lessing
    ISBN 0691013438 (0-691-01343-8)
    Softcover, Princeton University Press

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    Book summary:

    Readers of this new, enlarged edition of the classic feminist study of British women novelists will find themselves delighted by Elaine Showalter's astute and acerbic critical intelligence. Showalter is one of the few scholars who can make her readers rush to their bookshelves to refute her point, or simply to experience again Jane Eyre, The Mill on the Floss, or the bitterly illuminating stories of Katherine Mansfield. Her chief innovation is to place the works of famous women writers beside those of the minor or forgotten, building a continuity of influence and inspiration as well as a more complete picture of the social conditions in which women's books have been produced. She has added a new introduction recounting, with justifiable pleasure, how daring and controversial her study seemed when it first appeared in 1977 (and how many enemies it made her). In an afterword, she touches on more recent developments in the women's novel in Britain, including the influence of the dazzling Angela Carter. --Regina Marler

  • Showalter, Elaine: The New Feminist Criticism
  • Robert Lehman Lectures On Contemporary Art No.3
    ISBN 0944521770 (0-944521-77-0)
    Softcover, Dia Art Foundation

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    Book summary:

    This third volume of collected theoretical and critical essays focuses on Dia's exhibitions from 1998 through 2000. As in the first two volumes, nine diverse contributors are included, ranging from art historian Jonathan Crary and philosopher Boris Groys to film theoretician Peter Wollen, from curator Russel Fergusson to cultural critic Elaine Showalter. These writers, among others, take on the challenges of illuminating, analyzing, and exploring the work of a disparate group of internationally recognized artists, including Joseph Beuys, Stan Douglas, Douglas Gordon, Rodney Graham, Bruce Nauman, and Andy Warhol. Together, the essays in this book present a broad-based account of contemporary artistic practice, criticism, scholarship, and theory.

  • Showalter, Elaine: Scribbling Women: Short Stories by 19th Century American Women
    Scribbling Women: Short Stories by 19th-Century American Women
    ISBN 0460877704 (0-460-87770-4)
    Softcover, Everymans Library

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    Book summary:

    With sources as diverse as A Vindication of the Rights of Woman and Scream 2, Inventing Herself is an expansive and timely exploration of three centuries of feminist intellectuals, each of whom possesses a boundless determination to alter the world by boldly experiencing love, achievement, and fame on a grand scale. Focusing on paradigmatic figures ranging from Mary Wollstonecraft and Margaret Fuller to Germaine Greer and Susan Sontag, preeminent scholar Elaine Showalter uncovers common themes and patterns of women's lives across the centuries and discovers the feminist intellectual tradition they embodied. The author brilliantly illuminates the contributions of Eleanor Marx, Zora Neale Hurston, Simone de Beauvoir, Margaret Mead, and many more.

    Showalter, a highly regarded critic known for her provocative and strongly held opinions, has here established a compelling new Who's Who of women's thought. Certain to spark controversy, the omission of such feminist perennials as Gloria Steinem, Susan B. Anthony, Robin Morgan, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Virginia Woolf will surprise and shock the conventional wisdom.

  • Sexual Anarchy: Gender and Culture at the Fin de Siecle
    ISBN 1853812773 (1-85381-277-3)
    Softcover, Virago Press Ltd

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    Book summary:

    An exploration of the paralells between the ends of the 19th and 20th centuries and their representations in art, literature and film, this book asks whether the approaching millenium signals a beginning or points grimly to an end, and whether the ends of centuries are merely imaginery borderlines in time, or cycles, such as the crises of the "fin de siecle" and the sense of ending so ominously present in the works of contemporary writers and artists. The novelist George Gissing remarked that the 1880s and 1890s were decades of sexual anarchy, when the notions of gender that governed sexual identity and behaviour were being constantly eroded. It was a time when the words "feminism" and "homosexuality" came into use, redefining accepted ideas of masculine and feminine, and a time when the "emancipated woman" was viewed as a threat to family stability. That was nearly 100 years ago, and in this book the author points out the similarity between that time and this time. The sexual abuse of children and the increasing frequency of rape; the censoring of art and the banning of pornography; anti-abortion campaigns and the AIDs epidemic - these late-20th-century crises are, the author suggests, comparable to their "fin de siecle" counterparts. Elaine Showalter is also the author of "A Literature of Their Own: Women Writers from Bronte to Lessing" and "The Female Malady: Women, Madness, and English Culture, 1830 - 1980".

  • Sister's Choice: Traditions and Change in American Women's Writing (Clarendon Lectures)
    ISBN 0192824171 (0-19-282417-1)
    Softcover, Oxford University Press, USA

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    Book summary:

    When Elaine Showalter's study of English women writers, A Literature of Their Own, appeared in 1977, Patricia M. Spacks hailed it in The New York Times Book Review as "provocative....thoughtfully argued," and certain to "generate fresh social and literary understanding." Now Showalter--who also edited the influential New Feminist Criticism (for which the New York Times Book Review found "cause to celebrate")--turns her critical insight to a wide range of American women authors in order to explore the diversity of our culture and question the concept of a single national literature or identity.
    After a lucid discussion of recent African-American, feminist, and post-colonial scholarship, Showalter provides provocative readings of classic and lesser-known women's writings. The focal points of this study are the delightful chapters on Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, Edith Wharton's House of Mirth, and Kate Chopin's The Awakening. Not only are Showalter's interpretations full of wit and subtlety--as when she compares Chopin's novel to a piece of music by the composer Chopin--but her imaginative invocation of these popular works makes us curious to rediscover them. The range of Sister's Choice is spectacular--from Alice Walker's The Color Purple (Celie's quilt provides Showalter's title--an allusion to the multiple destinies of American women) to Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin (which is compared to the popular Log Cabin pattern quilt of the 19th century). Along the way we find chapters on rewritings of Shakespeare's Tempest by American women, on the Female Gothic (from Anne Radcliffe to Charlotte Perkins Gilman to Joyce Carol Oates), on Harlem Renaissance writers such as Nella Larsen and Zora Neal Hurston (who died in a welfare home, only to have her work rediscovered decades later), even on the history of the patchwork quilt in literature and in women's lives, which ends with a moving description of the Names Project, the quilt which memorializes people who have died of AIDS.
    The broad scope of Sister's Choice (which is based on the prestigious Clarendon lectures from 1989) testifies to the multiplicity of cultures which make up the United States. In her approach to literary works, Elaine Showalter helps to envision a new map of America--one which charts the struggles, suffering, and enduring creativity of women's writing.

    More editions of Sister's Choice: Traditions and Change in American Women's Writing (Clarendon Lectures):

  • Showalter, Elaine: Sister's Choice: Traditions and Change in American Women's Writing, The 1989 Clarendon Lectures
  • Showalter, Elaine: Speaking of Gender
  • Showalter, Elaine: Teaching Literature
  • Showalter, Elaine: Teaching Literature EPZ
  • Showalter, Elaine: The Vintage Book of American Women Writers
  • German

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    Coauthors & Alternates

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    Elaine SHOWALTER
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