Summited to :-Dr.Barad (sir)
Feminist criticism is a type of literary criticism, which may study and advocate the rights of women. As Judith Fettered says, "Feminist criticism is a political act whose aim is not simply to interpret the world but to change it by changing the consciousness of those who read and their relation to what they read." Using feminist criticism to analyze fiction may involve studying the repression of women in fiction. How do men and women differ? What is different about female heroines, and why are these characters important in literary history? In addition to many of the questions raised by a study of women in literature, feminist criticism may study stereotypes, creativity, ideology, racial issues,marginality,andmore.
Feminist criticism may also involve reevaluating women writers--following the lead of Virginia Woolf in "A Room of One's Own." 1759-1797Mary Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Woman is one of the most important documents in the history of women's rights. Wollstonecraft's personal life was often troubled, and her early death of childbed fever cut short her evolving ideas. Her second daughter, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin Shelley, was Percy Shelley's second wife and author of the book, Frankenstein.
Feminist literary criticism is literary criticism informed by feminist theory, or by the politics of feminism more broadly. Its history has been broad and varied, from classic works of nineteenth-century women authors such as George Eliot and Margaret Fuller to cutting-edge theoretical work in women's studies and gender studies by "third-wave" authors. In the most general and simple terms, feminist literary criticism before the 1970s—in the first and second waves of feminism—was concerned with the politics of women's authorship and the representation of women's condition within literature.
Since the development of more complex conceptions of gender and subjectivity and third-wave feminism, feminist literary criticism has taken a variety of new routes, namely in the tradition of the Frankfurt School's critical theory. It has considered gender in the terms of Freudian and Laconia psychoanalysis, as part of the deconstruction of existing relations of power, and as a concrete political investment. It has been closely associated with the birth and growth of queer studies. And the more traditionally central feminist concern with the representation and politics of women's lives has continued to play an active role in criticism. In Indian literature the issues of feminism have been dealt with differently. As in a seminar held in Sahitya Academy writer Raffia Shabnam Abidi of Mumbai pointed out we have now a novel by Paigham Afaqui which has dealt with its female character Neera as a human being in most perfect manner while treating her being a female only as a part of her personality. She emphasised that for the first time in literature MAKAAN, a novel by a male writer (surprisingly) Paigham Afaqui has produced a character that contains and embodies the dream of the self of a woman that all thinkers through out the world have been craving for.She disputed the contention that only a female writer can contribute to feminist thinking and cause. 'A writer himself/herself has to rise above the gender dividing line while writing about a human society'.Commented Paigham Afaqui who was also present in the seminar. In a seminar held in Cuttuk (Orissa), India organised by National Book Trust, Autar Singh Judge had pointed out while representing Urdu fiction that Neera, the lead character of Makaan was the finest depiction of female character in the Indian literature. It received consensus. But unfortunately, the male politics as present in Urdu circles kept this view suppressed for a long time and started highlighting the writings of Quratul Ain Haider. They contented that 'writings by female writers' and not writings depicting female characters are feminist. The opinion is still divided but 'literature is not politics' as Paigham Afaqui pointed out on a few occasions in literary discussions. It is normally believed that female characters of Quratul Ain Haider only depict traditional personality of Indian women while Makaan is symbolizing the most vocal and effective career woman of India today.
Lisa Tuttle has defined feminist theory as asking "new questions of old texts." She cites the goals of feminist criticism as: (1) To develop and uncover a female tradition of writing, (2) to interpret symbolism of women's writing so that it will not be lost or ignored by the male point of view, (3) to rediscover old texts, (4) to analyze women writers and their writings from a female perspective, (5) to resist sexism in literature, and (6) to increase awareness of the sexual politics of language and style.
Feminist literary critics
Prominent feminist literary critics include Isobel Armstrong, Jennifer DeVere Brody, Laura Brown, Eva Figes, Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar, Annette Kolodny, Anne McClintock, Anne K. Mellor, Toril Moi, Felicity Nussbaum, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick and Gayatri Spivak.
The emergence of feminist literary criticism is one of the major de-velopments in literary studies in the past thirty years or so. This article attempts to give an overall view of feminist literary criticism, its discov-ery of early women novelists and feminist readings. Since feminist literary criticism has re-discovered the forgotten texts, from the 17th centu-ry onwards, written by women whose contribution to the emergence of the novel genre is undeniable, and included them in the critical evalua-tions, it is quite important to present them both in a historical and liter-ary perspective. Thus the first part of this article is largely devoted to the literary achievements of these early women writers.
The second part of the article mainly concentrates on the most re-cent phase of feminist criticism by trying to offer a theoretical perspec-tive so that the reader is provided with a broad view of its developments. It would, however, be an incomplete discussion of feminist literary per-spectives if feminist readings were excluded from the argument. Therefore the third part of the article deals with feminist readings of texts, showing their crucial differences from the male readings. My major strategy in this part is to point to a comprehensive perspective by using the deconstructive critical approach. In fact, throughout this article the deconstructive approach plays an important role, not only in arguing how the dominant discourses are challenged and disrupted, but also in demonstrating that there can be no universal and privileged meanings and values in literary traditions. Instead, there are only multiple mean-ings. To exemplify this view, the article concludes with a deconstructive reading of a postmodern text.
FEMINIST LITERARY CRITICISM: A THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVE
Feminist literary criticism became a theoretical issue with the ad-vent of the new women's movement initiated in the early 1960s. In fact, feminist criticism started as part of the international women's libera-tion movement. The first major book of particular significance, in this respect, was Betty Friedan's. The Feminine Mystique (1963) which contributed to the emergence of the new women's move-ment. In her book Friedan criticised "the dominant cultural image of the successful and happy American woman as a housewife and moth-er" (Leitch 308). According to Friedan, in the 1950s women had gone back to the house abandoning their jobs to men who came back from the war to claim their positions, and a feminine mystique was created in the media making the housewife and mother the ideal models for all women. Promoting women's ideal reality within the domestic realm, this mystique had reduced the identity of women to sexual and social passivity. Betty Friedan attempted to demystify this false feminine mys-tique, which she described as "a world confined to her own body and beauty, the charming of man, the bearing of babies, and the physical care and serving of husband, children and home" (cit. Millard 155), in order to renew the women's fight for equal rights. She had started a new consciousness-raising movement, and played a central role in developing the new discipline of women's studies.With the publication of Kate Millet's Sexual Politics (1969), feminist criticism became a challenge to the traditional norms of English studies in the 1970s. A re-reading of critical theories and methods of the literary tradition is possible only if those theories and methods are challenged from within their own assumptions. There is no origin of meaning and an end to the signification pro-cess. It is not possible to stop this process as Derrida has brilliantly demonstrated in his theory of deconstruction. Today recent critical theories of literature claim that there is no one singles reality or any dominant narrative that can bind the individual writer in any way. Feminist criticism is especially notable as regards its diversity of aims and methods; there is a basic principle that unites feminist literary critics under one roof despite their plurality of methods:
What unites and repeatedly invigorates fem-inist literary criticism... is neither dogma nor method but an acute and impassioned atten-tiveness to the ways in which primarily male structures of power are inscribed (or encoded) within our literary inheritance: the conse-quences of that encoding for women - as characters, as readers, and as writers; and, with that, a shared analytic concern for the implica-tions of that encoding not only for a better un-derstanding of the past but also for an im-proved reordering of the present and future
Feminist literary criticism has been very successful especially in re claiming the lost literary women and in documenting the sources. Many critics like Dale Spender, Elaine Showalter, Juliet Mitchell, among others, have investigated the reason why "To be seen as a woman writer" was "to be seen in a subcategory" (Spender 166). Thus women began to re-send the imposed literary categories and judgements by openly challenging and disrupting the logocentric tradition.
Under the umbrella of “feminist criticism” there is a wide range of critical practices and approaches to Shakespeare's works, and each of these approaches has its own supporters and detractors. Due to the diverse array of feminist studies, many feminist critics hesitate to posit a general description of what, exactly, feminist criticism is. It has been observed, however, that feminist criticism reflects the assorted theoretical positions of the feminist movement.
Character studies often form the focus of feminist analyses of Shakespeare's works.Erickson concludes by reviewing a new wave of feminist criticism which provides an expanded framework for viewing “otherness” in such characters as Shylock and Othello.