Cover image for Women in literature : reading through the lens of gender
Women in literature : reading through the lens of gender
Fisher, Jerilyn.
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
xxxix, 358 pages ; 27 cm
Reading Level:
1320 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN56.5.W64 W65 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



With the literary canon consisting mostly of works created by and about men, the central perspective is decidedly male. This unique reference offers alternate approaches to reading traditional literature, as well as suggestions for expanding the canon to include more gender sensitive works. Covering 96 of the most frequently taught works of fiction, essays offer teachers, librarians, and students fresh insights into the female perspective in literature. The list of titles, created in consultation with educators, includes classic works by male authors like Dickens, Faulkner, and Twain, balanced with works by female authors such as Kate Chopin's The Awakening and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein .

Also included are contemporary works by writers such as Alice Walker and Margaret Atwood that are being incorporated into the curriculum, as well as those advancing a more global view, such as Sandra Cisneros' House on Mango Street and Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart . The essays are expertly written in an accessible language that will help students gain greater awareness of gender-related themes. Suggestions for classroom discussions--with selected works for further study--are incorporated into the entries. The volume is organized alphabetically by title and includes both author and subject indexes. An appendix of gender-related themes further enhances this volume's usefulness for curriculum applications and student research projects.

Author Notes

JERILYN FISHER is Associate Professor of English at Hostos Community College, City University of New York, where she also teaches Women's Studies. She coordinated NWSA's Service Learning Project, co-editing the Women's Studies Service learning Handbook . She has published articles on feminist pedagogy, fairy tales and feminist theory. She co-edited with Ellen Silber Analyzing the Different Voice: Feminist Psychological Theory and Literary Texts .

ELLEN S. SILBER is Professor of French at Marymount College, where she also teaches Women's Studies and is Director of the Marymount Institute for the Education of Women and Girls. She edited Critical Issues in Foreign Language Instruction and co-edited Analyzing the Different Voice: Feminist Pschological Theory and Literary Texts with Jerilyn Fisher. She was an an associate editor for a special issue of Women's Studies Quarterly: Keeping Gender on the Chalkboard . Silber is actively involved with gender equity in education and has a Ford Foundation grant to work with a team on the creation of gender equitable classroom materials for teacher educators.

Reviews 3

Library Journal Review

Created to "support those who would like to `read like feminist critics,' " this work presents an essential collection of 96 essays that use gender criticism to analyze the most frequently taught literary works. Titles not usually considered part of the canon but that feature positive female characters are also included. Not only do these essays present new insights but they also offer teaching tips for analyzing literature from a feminist perspective. The editors recruited essay writers with different teaching techniques but similar critical viewpoints. Arranged alphabetically by title of analyzed work, these essays include interpretations of Macbeth, Huckleberry Finn, and Jane Eyre and of lesser-known works like Rita Mae Brown's Rubyfruit Jungle. Some essays offer classroom exercises and recommendations for further reading. The editors have included indexes by subject, theme, and literary works by author. An important contribution to the fields of literature, education, and women's studies; highly recommended for both academic and large public libraries.-Erica Swenson Danowitz, American Univ., Washington, DC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up-Despite years of feminist criticism, there is still a gap on reference shelves when it comes to a feminine approach to literature. This collection of two- to three-page signed essays looking at 96 works of fiction (both canonical works and newer/less familiar titles) is a sorely needed resource. The literary works run the gamut from Homer and William Shakespeare to Alice Walker and Amy Tan. Despite the inclusion of several weak articles, most libraries will want to consider this volume. The questions asked in many of the essays will be helpful in both understanding and re-evaluating these multifaceted works: For example, why, in Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, do the men move about and the women all stay put? What does that say about the role of a woman in Twain's society? Kim Martin Long examines the "female presences" in Herman Melville's Moby-Dick, "one of the least female fictional works of all time-." Add to that examinations of books such as Edwidge Danticat's Breath, Eyes, Memory; Buchi Emecheta's The Bride Price; and those popular with YA readers, such as Suzanne Fisher Staples's Shabanu and Julia Alvarez's How the Garc'a Girls Lost Their Accent. An appendix presents thematic lists of books: "Young Girls and Adolescents," "Women and Suicide," "Women as Sex Objects," etc. There are also author and subject indexes. Teachers looking for ways to shake up their traditional reading lists and students looking for a different approach to some classics will find this book of interest.-Herman Sutter, Saint Agnes Academy, Houston, TX (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

In a series of 96 essays, feminist scholars with wide educational experience offer a wake-up call to teachers and students to identify and correct stereotypical interpretations of both traditional and less familiar literary texts. Classic choices from Sophocles, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Dickens, and Mark Twain mingle with those by Kate Chopin, Toni Morison, Sylvia Plath, and Richard Wright, among many others. All are subjected to fresh analysis through the "lens of gender" to identify outmoded attitudes toward sex, race, and class. Each essay includes helpful ideas for generating class discussion and suggests books for further reading. Carefully organized, the volume includes an appendix of salient themes, an alphabetical list of titles, and an index of additional books by each author. A reliable handbook for the generalist, this book should interest primarily high school teachers as they prepare syllabi but also possibly beginning college students and their instructors. ^BSumming Up: Optional. Lower-division undergraduates and general readers. R. T. Van Arsdel emeritus, University of Puget Sound