Notes on Feminist Literary Criticism in the University Workshop, 1974, page 2

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TCMARD A DEFINITION OF FEMINIST LITERARY CRI'l‘.TCISIi

For the participants in our workshop, the conflict implicit in the A)
juxtaposition fieminismluniversity presented itself more as a source of
creativity than compromise, a challenge to be met head on. The real and
only question became not whether it could be done, but Qgg. And more to
the point, what did we all mean by feminist literary~criticism?‘

The workshop process was a collective attempt at providing a definition.

-—Since literary criticism is a battleground in itself, with every positionlf

’generating a polar opposite-«art/science, theory/practice, text/context--,..

I am proceeding from the deliberately open~ended premise that we are

talking about the analysis of texts, and that each of those terms is

isusceptible to the particular investment of the practitioner.

-—Since the parameters of the feminist movement are no less embattled, the

most cautious position will again be an avoidance of definition, except for

.the obvious identification of the root (woman) and the suffix ~ist, indicating

the practice in/of a particular iield of knowledge, and the advocacy of a
particular theory. In this way, the.adjective "feminist" simply designates

subject matter, and an ideological interpretation of that subject matter.“

In combination, that adds up to a very modest proposal: feminist M
literary criticism isvthe practice of textual analysis by a scholar (potentially
of either sex) committed to the examination, reevaluation, and revalorization
of what is related to women in literature. Unfortunately, nothing in that

. . . . . . 1
definition precludes a classic (sexist) approach. After all, one could

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conceivably study women writers, images of women, the female poetic, and

be a rampant chauvinist (again of either sex) : one has only to look at the
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heritage of literary history. Vi,»

 

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