Annis Pratt Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Professor Annis Vilas Pratt is a mover and shaker in women’s rights and women’s literature through her groundbreaking writings on mythology and archetypes in women’s fiction, her personal life example, and her continual pursuit of civil rights. Intrigued by Sigmund Freud’s and Carl Jung’s psychologies and William Blake’s and Joseph Campbell’s theories of myth and symbol, Pratt wrote Dylan Thomas’ Early Prose. In it, she delves into how writer Dylan Thomas’s symbolic and narrative method might have been influenced by contemporary psychology and universal myths and symbols. Her definition of myth and archetype in women’s novels and poetry in Archetypal Patterns in Women’s Fiction and Dancing with Goddesses set the bar for a uniquely feminine mythology and launched further research into a collective women’s psyche.

Pratt received her undergraduate degree from the all-women Smith College and her Ph.D. from Columbia University. She had the unique experience of being a white woman teaching at all-black Spelman College, part of Atlanta University, during the era of the Civil Rights movement. In 1960 she married Henry Pratt and moved to Detroit. In 1994 she dedicated Dancing with Goddesses to Henry, her “companion on our great adventure into the darkest forests.” Annis and Henry were interviewed in Time magazine in 1972 as examples of a successful, feminist marriage. They raised daughters Faith (Pratt) Hopp and Lorien Y. Pratt, Lorien named after a forest in one of Annis’s favorite literary works, The Lord of the Rings, by J. R. R. Tolkien. Henry Pratt died in 2000 from cancer.


(The entire section is 690 words.)


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Botts, Amber. “Cavewoman Impulses: The Jungian Shadow Archetype in Popular Romantic Fiction.” In Romantic Conventions, edited by Anne K. Kaler and Rosemary E. Johnson-Kurek. Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1999. This study looks to the psychology of Carl Jung and its interpretation by Pratt to describe a common device of contemporary fiction.

Davidson, Cathy M., and E. M. Broner, eds. The Lost Tradition: Mothers and Daughters in Literature. New York: Ungar, 1980. Pratt and feminist critics such as Adrienne Rich define myth as it relates to women.

Pratt, Annis. “The New Feminist Criticisms: Exploring the History of the New Space.” In Beyond Intellectual Sexism: A New Woman, a New Reality, edited by Joan I. Roberts. New York: David McKay, 1976. Shows Pratt’s influence in the new feminine and feminist literary paradigm.