Summary (Identities & Issues in Literature)
No Man’s Land: The Place of the Woman Writer in the Twentieth Century, an ambitious three-volume series by the most influential feminist literary critics of their generation, addresses the changing identities of female and male writers of the twentieth century. In particular, Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar analyze the literature and literary movements of the century as products of a war between the sexes. As the series title suggests, as women gained power, beginning in the late nineteenth century, through the women’s movement, and as women discovered new identities for themselves, men experienced a corresponding sense of emasculation, perceiving themselves as “no-men.”
In volume 1, The War of the Words, Gilbert and Gubar describe the ways that literary modernism, the prevailing style of the 1920’s and 1930’s, differs in the works of male and female writers, grounding their arguments in analysis of social and cultural events. They conclude that modernism and avant-garde writing are the result of a sexual battle between men and women. Modernism has traditionally been considered largely a male movement; Gilbert and Gubar credit women writers with a greater role in its development than most previous critics do.
Volume 2, Sexchanges, argues that, as sex roles change, the sexes battle, resulting in changes in what is perceived as erotic. Definitions of sex and sex roles evolved through three phases:...
(The entire section is 381 words.)
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