Feminism and American Literary History PDF Author: Nina Baym
Publisher: Rutgers University Press
ISBN: 9780813518558
Category : Literary Criticism
Languages : en
Pages : 292

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Book Description
For more than a decade Nina Baym has pioneered in the reexamination of American literature. She has led the way in questioning assumptions about American literary history, in critiquing the standard canon of works we read and teach, and in rediscovering lost texts by American women writers. Feminism and American Literary History collects fourteen of her most important essays published since 1980, which, combining feminist perspectives with original archival research, significantly revise standard American literary history. In Part I, "Rewriting Old American Literary History," the focus is on male writers. Essays range from close readings of individual works to ambitious critiques of the main paradigms by which scholars have conventionally linked disparate texts and authors in a narrative of nationalist literary history: the self-in-the-wilderness myth, the romance-novel distinction, the myth of New England origins. Part II, "Writing New American Literary History," studies examples of women's writing from the Revolution through the Civil War. Stressing much overtly public and political writing that has been overlooked even by feminist scholars, noting public and political themes in supposedly domestic works, the essays substantially modify and historicize the paradigm by which premodern American women's writing is currently understood. The contentious and influential essays in Part III, "Two Feminist Polemics," address feminist literary theory and pedagogy, advocating a pluralist practice as the basis for scholarship, criticism, and humane feminism. No one interested in American literature or in women's writing can afford to ignore Baym's revisionist work. Humorous and gracefully written, this book is enjoyable and indispensable.