A concise Definition of Feminist Literary Theory

A concise Definition of Feminist Literary Theory


Since feminism is linked to many human domains, this notion in actuality remains a really complicated term to define… From a chronological angle for instance, one might remark that feminism emanated in the fields of politics and juridical sciences, so that women could gain their civil rights, and then it moved to other epistemological disciplines such as anthropology and, of course, literary criticism. In this article, I will try to emphasis briefly feminist theory as a new approach to literature.

In this sense, what is palpable from the rich sources about the aforementioned topic is that this school explores how women are represented in literature, by questioning the long dominant male and egocentric ideologies. In the meantime, feminism proves to the public that male criticism is a method of analysis which considers women‘s artistic products something of trashy quality and bitter savour. By this way, feminism discloses frankly that phalo centric literature is far away from objective attitudes and academic interpretations!

Always in line with the previous views, for feminist doctrines male literary criticism is acquainted to employ its conspiracy and to order censorship against any feminist creativity, if the latter does not follow the dirty path of misogynist writers and does not utilize the traditional blind implements. Consequently, galaxies of feminist aces (headed by Josephine Donovan, Helene Cixous along with Barbara Smith) compare this male genocriticism in literature with that sort of eurocentrism in anthropology. By these standards, literature becomes to function as a dehumanized realm that contributes at the end into a sexist ideology. Concordantly, feminists claim that male readers and critics have made a total rupture with the ethical conduct and have directed their lenses solely to aesthetic pleasure, while dealing with belles lettres.

On the basis of the above non-objective descriptions, and as a counter response or argument, feminist critical approach to literature urgently demands the following strategies:

1- An embargo against any artistic (fictitious) product or any critical work written by misogynists. This means forbidding women readers to buy and read any kind of distorted and anti-female work.

2- Legal punishment or imprisonment of actual misogynists.

3- In terms of characterization, women in literature must not be as stereotypes or objects of interest who play domestic, decorative and sensual roles. Conversely, literature should admit the authenticity of female characters. That is why for example feminist literary theory nullifies Aristotle’s contention that women should have a secondary and traditional role vis-à-vis characterization. What is worth mentioning is that this sort of dogmatic conviction can be called an adultery of brain and a crime of logic– as some feminist leaders contend!

4- In terms of literary language and style, and giving that women undergo biological and psychological experiences that are dissimilar to men, feminism calls for a special female discourse.

5- Since feminist literary tradition (that is composed of women’s intellectual wits and gifts) is buried and aborted, the task of feminist critical approach to literature is to dig it out, brush it down, exhibit it (by studying the evolution of women’s writings) and revitalize it in a new morphology that is coherently distant from male‘s criticism.

In short, feminist literary criticism is a bold attempt that has thwarted women’s literature being inferior and seared by social injustice. For more details about this literary theory, avid readers might refer to the citations below for further research:

A Mulher Escritora Em África E Na Ameríca Latina (1999), edited by Ana Maria Mão-de-Ferro Martinho.

Feminist Criticism and Social Change: Sex, Class and Race in Literature (1985), edited by J. Newton and D. Rosenfelt.

Feminist Literary Theory: A Reader (1986), edited by Mary Eagleton.

Feminist Literary Theory: Explorations in Theory (1975), edited by J. Donovan.

Twentieth Century Literary Theory: A Reader (1988), edited by K.M. Newton.

Women and Fiction: Feminism and the Novel (1979), written by Patricia Stubbs.

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Mounir Haissour
Mounir Haissour is a senior high school teacher of EFL from Tetouan, northern Morocco. He realized his tertiary studies at Martil Faculty of Arts and Tangier King Fahd School of Translation. In addition, he studied tourism at the University of Alicante, Spain, and he obtained an official diploma in Spanish from the Instituto Cervantes. As well, Mounir Haissour spent one academic year in Casablanca, where he studied Portuguese language and culture at the Consulate General of Portugal. Mounir Haissour has published a wide array of articles in Arabic, Spanish, and English in Morocco and abroad. He was also the founder of the Moroccan Association for Alternative Tourism. During his free time, he practices hiking. This recreation modality has permitted him to reach most of the peaks of the Rif and Atlas Mountains. Mounir Haissour can be reached at: atlasleo77@gmail.com