Susan David Gubar (GEW-bar) was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1944. She earned her bachelor of arts degree in English literature from City University of New York in 1965. In 1968 she completed her M.A. at the University of Michigan and in 1972 received her Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. Following a year of teaching at the University of Chicago, Gubar joined the faculty at Indiana University in 1973, where she became a distinguished professor of English and women’s studies.
Gubar’s distinctive approach to feminist literary analysis has been classified by many scholars as woman-centered. Other feminist scholars whose works are considered in this category include Sandra Gilbert, Luce Irigaray, Kate Millett, Adrienne Rich, and Elaine Showalter. The term “woman-centered” refers to critical approaches that focus on women’s lives, suggesting that though often neglected in literature and academics, their experiences merit publication, readership, and serious study. The impact of gender on the literary form is central to woman-centered studies, often focusing on the need for authentic forms of expression for women’s voices and the quest for a woman’s language.
In 1979 Susan Gubar and her colleague Sandra Gilbert saw the publication of the first of their many jointly written works of literary criticism, The Madwoman in the Attic. Recognized as a landmark work of feminist literary theory, their work was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award and a Pulitzer Prize. Their study focused on texts written by nineteenth century British and American women novelists and poets, including Jane Austen, Mary Shelley, Charlotte and Emily Brontë, George Eliot, and Emily Dickinson. The book grew out of a women’s literature course the two friends team-taught at Indiana University in the early 1970’s. Their hope was to recover and delineate a female literary tradition and aesthetic. What they found instead were concerns about the representation of women in...
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