Women's Studies: An Interdisciplinary Anthology

Women's Studies: An Interdisciplinary Anthology

Women's Studies: An Interdisciplinary Anthology

Women's Studies: An Interdisciplinary Anthology


This interdisciplinary anthology presents some of the major issues and controversies currently being discussed in the disciplines of anthropology, biology, history, literature and language, the performing arts, popular culture, psychology, religion, and sociology. All the essays in this collection focus on the social constructiveness of gender, that is, the ways in which definitions of femininity and masculinity influence the formation of the individual, society, and culture. Yet each essay provides its own disciplinary perspective as it explores the differences between nature and nurture, biological fact, and culturally imposed gender role.


Roberta Rosenberg

Re-vision—the act of looking back, of seeing with fresh eyes, of entering an old text from a new critical direction—is for women more than a chapter in cultural history: it is an act of survival.

—Adrienne Rich, “When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Re-Vision.”

We need to recover and explore the aspects of social relations that have been suppressed, unarticulated, or denied within dominant male viewpoints. We need to recover and write the histories of women and our activities into the accounts and stories that cultures tell about themselves.

—Jane Flax, “Postmodernism and Gender Politics.”

Women's studies has always had as one of its goals the “re-vising” or re- seeing of human experience from a different, gendered perspective. In fact, the history of feminist inquiry in the twentieth century has included the recovery, exploration, and revising of knowledge that was once thought “objective” and is now seen to be biased or at least culturally constructed.

The first phase of feminist inquiry (early twentieth century) had three specific goals according to social historian Maggie Humm: “education, emancipation and politics.” This “first-wave” feminism concentrated on women's personal identity and victimhood in a patriarchal society. However, distinctions among women (race, class, ethnicity, sexual orientation) were often bypassed as writers like Virginia Woolf and Simone de Beauvoir believed women were viewed as “objects” by dominating men. First-wave writers, therefore, sought to revise and re-see a monolithic category called “woman” in new ways that would provide equality and equal opportunity.

The second phase of feminist analysis that extends through the mid- 1980s includes a more “woman-centered inquiry” according to Elaine Showalter in her essay “Feminist Criticism in the Wilderness.” Typical of this period is historian Gerda Lerner's question in her book The Majority . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.