Feminist Theory, Women's Writing

Feminist Theory, Women's Writing

Feminist Theory, Women's Writing

Feminist Theory, Women's Writing

Excerpt

The first draft of the introductory chapter of this book began by recounting exhaustively--and rather dryly--the history of feminist criticism between 1975 and 1985. I tore it up. Instead, by way of preface to the chapters that follow, it seems appropriate, because I am writing about women writers, to offer some account of myself as a woman writer and, because I am writing about feminist theory, to offer a brief history of my own encounters with a developing and dynamic feminist theory during those years. But like the medieval saints' lives that are the subject of my third chapter, this brief autobiographical excursion is meant to function emblematically: my political situation is, I think, characteristic of a generation of female scholars who entered graduate school before there was such a thing as feminist theory and who, having been trained in the patriarchal traditions of careful scholarship, found by 1980 or so that the tradition to which we had pledged our fealty had been exposed, to varying degrees, as a procession of false idols. In this respect, my experiences in the profession disclose a political (and generational) history that I hope will focus attention on the institutional consequences of my analyses of feminist theory.

I spent the years between 1974 and 1978 in Philadelphia as a graduate student training in medieval studies. I sweated, willingly, over at least nine dead languages, from Old Irish to Middle High German. Except for learning those languages, I was not really doing anything I had not already done as an undergraduate. The restlessness and boredom I experienced during those years was . . .

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