Faith of a (Woman) Writer

Faith of a (Woman) Writer

Faith of a (Woman) Writer

Faith of a (Woman) Writer


Reflecting the salient undercurrents of contemporary researh on women writers, this volume is an appraisal of the work of the writer as woman and presents critics' perceptions about how women writers have dealt with the complexity of changing female visions in the 20th century. Each of the 34 essays, contributed by some of today's most distinguished writers, speaks to the work of a particular 20th-century woman writer, and each constitutes a contribution to the scholarly debate.


The papers contained in this volume were selected from those presented at a four-day conference on twentieth-century women writers held at Hofstra in the fall of 1982. Although not concerned to say anything theoretical about feminist criticism, they do reflect salient undercurrents of contemporary opinion about women writers.

When we sat down to shape the conference we agreed to seek papers with two kinds of directions. We would look for criticism that honored the work of acknowledged writers of stature, and, in the light of the vast changes in consciousness and in social roles around gender in the past ten years, we would look as well at how a new generation of critics had come to terms with the work of distinguished women. In short, this would be a conference in which literary critics appraised the work of the writer as woman. It would explore how women generated their art, developed and presented it. The conference would ask not whether women were as great in their achievement as men, but about what was unique to gender.

Accordingly, we sent out a call for papers, requesting submissions that stressed either "the aesthetic attainments" of women writers, or centered "around the general theme of women's self-realization." We indicated that we would by no means confine ourselves to the boundaries of the United States. Gender crosses national boundaries, as it transcends lines of color and race, and we hoped to find its shared elements.

The response encouraged us to believe we had proposed a theme that resonated in the academic community. Without financial incentive of any sort, without even the offer of transportation, nearly 300 people volunteered papers. A committee of faculty at Hofstra and neighboring universities ultimately chose about . . .

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