The NEW WOMAN IN PRINT AND PICTURES: AN ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY

By Schofer, Yvonne | Feminist Collections: A Quarterly of Women's Studies Resources, Fall 2009 | Go to article overview

The NEW WOMAN IN PRINT AND PICTURES: AN ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY


Schofer, Yvonne, Feminist Collections: A Quarterly of Women's Studies Resources


Marianne Berger Woods, The NEW WOMAN IN PRINT AND PICTURES: AN ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2009. 192p. index. pap., $49.95, ISBN 978-0786436248.

The literary figure of the New Woman has generated much critical appraisal since the late 1970s, when pioneering books such as Elaine Showalter's A Literature of Their Own and a flurry of reprints of novels by Virago Press placed it squarely within the context of feminist studies. The New Woman emerged in the late 1880s, chiefly in Britain, and to a lesser extent in the United States and other European and English-speaking countries, during the first decades of the twentieth century. The term described a social and literary type challenging the traditional representation of women as largely subservient to men and excluded from the public sphere. Outward manifestations of emancipation included dress reform, smoking, drinking and riding bicycles, (1) all easy to criticize and caricaturize. In fact, the New Woman was a complex creature, often ambivalent or conservative in matters of marriage, motherhood, suffrage, and professionalism. Nevertheless, the term served to identify a growing feminist movement and to galvanize its opponents.

The New Woman in Print and Pictures presents an overview of primary sources followed by a list of recent secondary works. An introduction provides historical context for the subject and describes how it captured the interest and imagination of contemporaries. Numbered entries in Part I, arranged alphabetically by year, list primary texts: novels and plays published between 1894 and 1938, original articles dealing with the New Woman, selected poems, satirical cartoons from newspapers and periodicals, advertisements, and artwork. Part II is a substantial compilation of critical articles from 1962 through 2008, also numbered, dealing with the primary texts. However, Marianne Berger Woods, having turned up a huge amount of material and been forced to narrow her selection to a manageable size, has somewhat misguidedly chosen to eliminate all contemporary criticism of the novels. This decision is understandable, but deprives readers of the opportunity of setting current views of the books against those that greeted them upon publication. Instead of listing, as originally intended, "every book and article including 'New Woman' in its text, without regard for date," she has made exclusions for reasons of expediency--for instance, choosing a debate between pro- and anti-feminists in 1894 as the first official appearance of the term, and leaving out such essential works as Olive Schreiner's The Story of an African Farm (1883) and Sarah Grand s The Heavenly Twins (1893), which are generally considered by scholars to be the first examples of New Woman fiction. …

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