, , , , , ,

So much can be said about literature, the audiences of certain genres of novels that are read, and the way individuals interpret the things they read. In past discussions about the canon, it had been pointed out in my reading group that women authors tend to write most romantic novels, while males write more horror and fantasy. In Rita Felski’s Literature after Feminism, she classifies women in the 19th century novel as more sentimental and romantic and men as having a need for action. To acknowledge such a thing would be allowing binaries to be viewed as truths. This is something I don’t agree with. Some men, like Nicholas Sparks, for example, write romance novels, and Anne Rice contributes to the thriller/horror novel genre.  Still, there must be a reason why romance movies have females as their target audience and they are called “chick flicks.” My husband really doesn’t like them. Anything involving romance, family, love, intimacy is off the table my living room when he is home. This is not to say that some men don’t really enjoy them.  I then decided, it may be that since romances have traditionally been written for women, perhaps men have always been taught by society to resist them.

The term reading resistance applies to those who only read and analyze in terms of what they want to hear, know, learn. It is easy to view what you want to interpret as confirming your own arguments or belief systems with in a text without actually pulling it apart and revealing the true meaning that was intended by the author to come through. This kind of reading is brought to the surface in Felski’s writing.

Literature after Feminism is not only the title of Rita Felski’s text, it’s an argument for a new way of thought provoking reading which says people may use bias in their approach to analysis.  Her ideas about men and women sympathizing with characters of the opposite sex and studies having been done  to confirm this were very intriguing. If it can be said that male writers have a history of patronizing and ignoring women, I wonder, can it also be said that women writers would patronize and ignore men had they been in control? Or would it be the opposite: women would write the roles of men with justice and empathy. As Cixous and Collette have argued, women are more willing to accept the male perspective than men have been of women. If this is true, then why is it so? I would say that if it is in any way factual, then it is so because women have historically been required to gain access to power by thinking and acting like men. Men, on the other hand, have never really needed to see life from a woman’s perspective to achieve anything.

I see the importance of recognizing a woman author versus a man, especially during the 19th century.  Felski points out the concept of authorship, which had at one point been viewed as unimportant. This concept is debatable, because everything about an author’s life, in my opinion, contributes to writing style.  This includes gender, which could be realized by the signs of domestic imprisonment of the 19th century woman throughout her writing. I don’t want to say that things are always defined so narrowly, but this is a difficult topic to touch on. A woman can choose to write about another woman and relate to very few women. Still, this does not necessarily make her a poor writer. The point is that there are millions of different perspectives from different times in history out there and people don’t need to have the same personality to relate to human characteristics. Since the topics of the book really make a person think about literature and gender- whether the reader agrees or disagrees with the arguments-it is worth examining.

Final Rating: 4 out 5 Stars

For more information: