Reading Notes from "Genre and Gender"


Reading Notes from Mary Eagleton,
"Genre and Gender"

feminist criticism looks at genre in terms of sexual difference
and asks if we can create a criticism which is non-essentialist and non-reductive...

the novel became a possible form for women; lyricism was too assertive/egotistic
literary history privileges male-cominated forms; female forms were seen as less literary
generic divisions are not neutral , impartial; aesthetic judgements are ideologically bound

restricted access to literary production, women turned to private forms
subversive potential of women's writing: how transform male-dominated forms?
questioning (truth, coherence, resolution of) realist forms of writing: undermine symbolic order
non-realist forms permit women to express contradictions, fantasties, desires (l'ecriture feminine)


popular romantic fiction produced by, for, about women
female sub-culture classic case-study of sexual difference
romantic fiction a sign of women's dissatisfaction with their social lot, unfulfilled desires
subversive potential in compulsive, pleasurable aspects of romantic fiction:
fantasies in excess of the socially possible/acceptable

pre-condition: development of capitalism, industrialisation, urbanization:
denied middle-class women traditional occupations
opportunities in newness of form, low status, relative easiness to read
novel writing: domestic form of production (didn't disturb household, demanded no equipment)
materialist? rank biologist? interpretation?

theoretical problem:
concept of sexual difference can be used to promote reactionary and radical politics:
"narrowing of framework of experience and attitudes"
valorize difference as important, oppositional?
or expose fictive nature of socially constructed difference?

difficulty of locating specificity of women's writing
ambiguity/bisexuality of writing
gender as a critical category disappears

Can we create a criticism which is non-essentialist, non-reductive?