Elaine Showalter Criticism - Essay

Marcia Landy (review date winter 1977-1978)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Landy, Marcia. Review of A Literature of Their Own: British Women Novelists from Brontë to Lessing, by Elaine Showalter. Modern Fiction Studies 23, no. 4 (winter 1977-1978): 637-45.

[In the following excerpt, Landy praises Showalter's broad historical analysis of female authors in A Literature of Their Own, but criticizes her tendency to offer unsympathetic, overly negative judgments of individual writers.]

Two of the four books reviewed here are distinguished by new and challenging critical methodologies, and two are not. Gabriel Josipovici's edited collection of essays on the modern novel reveals a primarily structuralist and linguistic...

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Daniel J. Cahill (review date winter 1978)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Cahill, Daniel J. Review of A Literature of Their Own: British Women Novelists from Brontë to Lessing, by Elaine Showalter. World Literature Today 52, no. 1 (winter 1978): 114-15.

[In the following review, Cahill praises the range and the scope of material in A Literature of Their Own, noting that the work “change the content and perspective of literary history as it is currently taught in our colleges and universities.”]

The truly significant accomplishment of A Literature of Their Own is the creation of a new perceptual framework, an accurate and systematic literary history for women writers in the British tradition. In the most...

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Agate Nesaule Krouse (review date spring 1978)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Krouse, Agate Nesaule. Review of A Literature of Their Own: British Women Novelists from Brontë to Lessing, by Elaine Showalter. Criticism 20, no. 2 (spring 1978): 216-18.

[In the following excerpt, Krouse compliments Showalter's examination of “the female literary tradition” in A Literature of Their Own, but finds fault with Showalter's treatment of twentieth-century writers, including Virginia Woolf.]

Only recently have critics become fully aware that knowledge about women writers and therefore literary history itself is fragmentary and biased. Innumerable articles and some books from a feminist perspective have reinterpreted the...

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Tom Paulin (review date 21 July 1978)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Paulin, Tom. “Fugitive Spirits.” New Statesman 96, no. 2470 (21 July 1978): 94.

[In the following excerpt, Paulin offers a negative assessment of A Literature of Their Own, arguing that the work makes a “snobbish mockery of Women's Liberation.”]

Those Victorian photographs of bearded patriarchs flanked by their unsmiling families may seem merely quaint to us nowadays, but it's important to remember how they were once the agents of hideously formidable cultural tyranny. As Gloria Fromm shows in her long, loving biography of Dorothy Richardson, the effort to escape the domination of ‘masculine culture’ involved an intense struggle against a...

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Vineta Colby (review date February 1980)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Colby, Vineta. Review of A Literature of Their Own: British Women Novelists from Brontë to Lessing, by Elaine Showalter. Modern Philology 77, no. 3 (February 1980): 357-60.

[In the following review, Colby praises the range of material covered in A Literature of Their Own, but criticizes Showalter's assertions about Victorian feminism and her analysis of Charlotte Brontë and George Eliot.]

A Literature of Their Own is by far the best account yet published of the emergence of the feminine sensibility in the English novel. It documents with sound research and reasoned, if sometimes controversial, theory a subject that too many writers in...

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Catherine Belsey (review date 28 March 1986)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Belsey, Catherine. “The Work of Womankind.” New Statesman 111, no. 2870 (28 March 1986): 24-5.

[In the following review of The New Feminist Criticism: Essays on Women, Literature, and Theory, Belsey examines the differences between American and British feminist criticism and asserts that more attention should be paid to the social construction of women's reality rather than to promoting a gender-inclusive “populist” canon.]

Feminist criticism has come of age. Eighteen years on from Mary Ellman's Thinking about Women, these two collections of essays are elegant, accomplished and quite free from the (tomboyish?) high spirits that antagonised...

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Patricia Meyer Spacks (review date 28 April 1986)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Spacks, Patricia Meyer. “Crazy Ladies?” New Republic 194, no. 17 (28 April 1986): 34-6.

[In the following review, Spacks commends Showalter's extensive knowledge and detailed accounts of psychiatric abuses in The Female Malady: Women, Madness, and English Culture, 1830-1980, but finds shortcomings in Showalter's myopic thesis and oversimplified interpretations.]

Uncovering the sexual politics of British psychiatric history, Elaine Showalter tells an often lurid, sometimes blackly comic, usually surprising story [in The Female Malady: Women, Madness, and English Culture, 1830-1980,] that raises disturbing questions. England has a distinctive...

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Nancy Scheper-Hughes (review date 1987)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Scheper-Hughes, Nancy. Review of The Female Malady: Women, Madness, and English Culture, 1830-1980, by Elaine Showalter. Women's Studies 13, no. 4 (1987): 390-96.

[In the following review, Scheper-Hughes praises the “original and exciting” subject material in The Female Malady, despite citing flaws in Showalter's analysis of schizophrenia.]

Foucault's brilliant social history of western madness [Madness and Civilization, 1967] opens with a compelling image, Sebastian Brant's Das Narrenschiff, the “ship of fools”, in order to fix in the reader's mind a picture of madness as it was prior to the “Enlightenment” when the...

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Linda Kauffman (review date winter 1987)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Kauffman, Linda. Review of The New Feminist Criticism: Essays on Women, Literature, and Theory, by Elaine Showalter. Signs 12, no. 2 (winter 1987): 405-09.

[In the following excerpt, Kauffman offers a positive assessment of The New Feminist Criticism, but notes that the collection lacks any substantial analysis of film and French feminism.]

The great danger to avoid is the self-isolating nature of critical discourse.

[Jean Starobinski]

“Literature” is what gets taught.

[Roland Barthes]

These four...

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Nancy Tomes (review date February 1987)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Tomes, Nancy. Review of The Female Malady: Women, Madness, and English Culture, 1830-1980, by Elaine Showalter. American Historical Review 92, no. 1 (February 1987): 131-32.

[In the following review of The Female Malady, Tomes commends Showalter's provocative cultural analysis, but finds shortcomings in her exaggerated premise and flawed historical interpretation of women's psychiatric treatment.]

[In The Female Malady: Women, Madness, and English Culture, 1830-1980,] Elaine Showalter, a feminist literary critic, has set out to write a “feminist history of psychiatry and a cultural history of madness as a female malady” (p. 5)....

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Dierdre Bair (review date 2 September 1990)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Bair, Dierdre. “End-of-the-Century Birth Throes.” Los Angeles Times Book Review (2 September 1990): 12.

[In the following review, Bair praises Showalter's amusing and informative discussions in Sexual Anarchy: Gender and Culture at the Fin-de-Siècle.]

Elaine Showalter is a distinguished feminist critic whose new book, Sexual Anarchy, is a provocative comparison of the last years of the 19th Century (the fin de siècle) with the final decade of our own. Her view is optimistic, as she chooses to view the 1990s as “the embryonic stirrings of a new order, a future that is utopian rather than apocalyptic.” She soundly rejects the idea that our...

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Julie Wheelwright (review date 29 March 1991)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Wheelwright, Julie. “Odd Women.” New Statesman and Society 4, no. 144 (29 March 1991): 29-30.

[In the following review, Wheelwright lauds the “fundamental questions” raised by Sexual Anarchy: Gender and Culture at the Fin-de-Siècle, but notes that the work focuses too heavily on the Victorian era.]

The final decades of a century often spawn apocalyptic fantasies, doom-sayers and outlandish prophets. Like the anti-nuclear scientists' vision of the world at “two minutes to mid-night”, we fear that time, for our species, is not only finite, but rapidly running out. If death by chemical warfare or terrorist sabotage during the Gulf war wasn't...

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Sara Maitland (review date 6 April 1991)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Maitland, Sara. “The Way They Were Then, Too.” Spectator 266, no. 8491 (6 April 1991): 28.

[In the following review of Sexual Anarchy: Gender and Culture at the Fin-de-Siècle, Maitland finds shortcomings in Showalter's emphasis on popular male, rather than female, writers and her premature effort to draw parallels between the 1890s and the 1990s.]

I am a fan of Elaine Showalter's, and have been since A Literature of Their Own—a study of women writers, particularly novelists, through the 19th century up until the creation of the present phase of the Women's Liberation Movement. I am a fan because she seems to have read everything and her...

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Pamela Young (review date 20 May 1991)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Young, Pamela. “A New Sexual Order.” Maclean's 104, no. 20 (20 May 1991): 68.

[In the following review, Young praises Showalter's central arguments in Sexual Anarchy: Gender and Culture at the Fin-de-Siècle, calling the work “provocative” and “eloquent.”]

The twilight of the 20th century is deepening beneath an overcast sky. In the current era of AIDS, economic decline and environmental decay, it is perhaps natural to wonder whether the world is plunging into unending night. In an intriguing new book, Elaine Showalter, head of English at Princeton University, points out that the same dire speculation shadowed the last two decades of the 19th...

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Helen Carr (review date 27 September 1991)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Carr, Helen. “Patchwork Quilt.” New Statesman and Society 4, no. 170 (27 September 1991): 54.

[In the following review, Carr compliments Showalter's research and analysis in Sister's Choice: Tradition and Change in American Women's Writing, but faults Showalter's romanticized notion of female community and virtue.]

Sister's Choice is, so to speak, the American sister of Elaine Showalter's first book, A Literature of Their Own, which traced a distinctive literary tradition through British women writers of the 19th and 20th centuries. Her argument then was that women formed a subculture, and their writing had to be interpreted like that...

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Florence Boos (review date November 1991)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Boos, Florence. “The Anatomy of Culture.” Women's Review of Books 9, no. 2 (November 1991): 26-7.

[In the following excerpt, Boos lauds Showalter's “eclectic virtuosity” in Sexual Anarchy: Gender and Culture at the Fin-de-Siècle but finds shortcomings in her ambiguous use of the term “anarchy” and her treatment of class issues and AIDS.]

Each of these three books treats late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century attitudes towards women's sexuality, health and physical capacities. All three focus on men's more than women's actions and beliefs, document repellent forms of sexist and gynophobic regimentation with horrific examples and note...

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Hermione Lee (review date 15 November 1991)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Lee, Hermione. “Separate Spheres and Common Threads.” Times Literary Supplement, no. 4624 (15 November 1991): 8.

[In the following review, Lee offers a negative assessment of Sister's Choice: Tradition and Change in American Women's Writing.]

This is a friendly title, [Sister's Choice,] and it comes in a positive red colour, with a bold quilt-pattern design, because “Sister's Choice” is the name of the quilt made by Celie and Shug in The Color Purple by Alice Walker, and the quilt is an emblem, Elaine Showalter says, of “a universalist, interracial, and intertextual tradition”. In deliberately selecting a title from a non-literary and...

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Elizabeth Shannon (review date 6 December 1991)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Shannon, Elizabeth. Review of Sexual Anarchy: Gender and Culture at the Fin-de-Siècle, by Elaine Showalter. Commonweal 118, no. 21 (6 December 1991): 728.

[In the following review, Shannon offers high praise for Showalter's scholarly examination of “social, sexual, and political attitudes” in Sexual Anarchy.]

There is one book I especially want to recommend this year, Elaine Showalter's Sexual Anarchy: Gender and Culture at the Fin-de-Siècle. Showalter is both engaging and scholarly in comparing social, sexual, and political attitudes prevalent at the end of the nineteenth century to our own fin de siècle. The parallels she discusses...

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Nina Baym (review date spring 1992)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Baym, Nina. Review of Sister's Choice: Tradition and Change in American Women's Writing, by Elaine Showalter. American Literature 64, no. 3 (spring 1992): 629-30.

[In the following review, Baym compliments the structure and subject material of Sister's Choice.]

From its dust jacket illustration of a quilt block to a final chapter on quilting, this book takes “piecing”—women's creation of patterned art from snips of available fabric—as the metaphor for American women's writing. The book itself is artfully pieced, inserting four previously published essays between two each of four Clarendon Lectures delivered in 1989. This elegant congruence of...

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Brenda Foglio Lyons (review date October 1992)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Lyons, Brenda Foglio. “American Patchwork.” Essays in Criticism 42, no. 4 (October 1992): 338-44.

[In the following review, Lyons argues that Sister's Choice: Tradition and Change in American Women's Writing is an inconsistent and incomplete, though entertaining, literary history of American women's writing.]

The notion of being simultaneously inside and outside patriarchy and its institutional processes is a feminist ideological construct that has achieved the status of mainstream cliché. Titles by French writers have surfaced which name this borderline as a discursive subject: Inside by Hélène Cixous, which won the Prix Medicis in...

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Susan Fraiman (review date spring 1993)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Fraiman, Susan. Review of Sexual Anarchy: Gender and Culture at the Fin-de-Siècle, by Elaine Showalter. Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature 12, no. 1 (spring 1993): 119-22.

[In the following excerpt, Fraiman praises Sexual Anarchy for its “gripping” examination of such works as Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Ann Ardis's New Women, New Novels.]

At the center of Elaine Showalter's gripping study of the fin de siècle is a reading of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I cannot help appropriating this duo to figure the relation between Ann Ardis's upbeat, brightly lit New...

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Andrea Stuart (review date 18 June 1993)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Stuart, Andrea. “Missing Links.” New Statesman and Society 6, no. 257 (18 June 1993): 38.

[In the following review, Stuart offers a generally positive assessment of Daughters of Decadence: Women Writers of the Fin-de-Siècle.]

Elaine Showalter has made something of a literary cottage industry out of the angst and alienation of the fin-de-siècle. In her book The Female Malady, she turned the tables on the men of knowledge who spent so long dissecting “the woman problem” in lieu of confronting their own anxieties. And in Sexual Anarchy, she explored the fears that stalked the psyches of those nervy Wildean decadents and their brittle...

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Chris Baldick (review date 3 September 1993)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Baldick, Chris. “Secular Variations.” Times Literary Supplement, no. 4718 (3 September 1993): 20-1.

[In the following excerpt, Baldick praises Showalter's exploration of the fin-de-siècle in Daughters of Decadence: Women Writers of the Fin-de-Siècle.]

Like the widow in Wilde's play whose hair has turned gold with grief, the study of the last century's Nineties sports an unseemly glow of prosperity. Nothing flourishes quite like decadence, and productivity is booming in the languor industry. The shiny new conference centre at Warwick University accommodates symposia on world-weariness, while publishers look forward to issuing fresh volumes on...

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Elaine Hedges (review date winter 1994)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Hedges, Elaine. Review of Sister's Choice: Tradition and Change in American Women's Writing, by Elaine Showalter. Signs 19, no. 2 (winter 1994): 507-11.

[In the following excerpt, Hedges criticizes Sister's Choice, drawing attention to Showalter's historically inaccurate understanding of quiltmaking.]

Of the three authors whose books are reviewed here, Cheryl Walker and Elaine Showalter bring to their material familiar feminist critical approaches. Lev Raphael, in contrast, offers a new critical methodology—one, he argues, that will provide “revolutionary insights into human motivation” (322), but that feminists concerned with issues of...

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Navina Krishna Hooker (review date May 1994)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Hooker, Navina Krishna. Review of Sister's Choice: Tradition and Change in American Women's Writing, by Elaine Showalter. Review of English Studies 45, no. 178 (May 1994): 288-90.

[In the following review, Hooker commends the variety of questions that Showalter raises in Sister's Choice, but notes minor flaws in Showalter's “untimely polemics.”]

Elaine Showalter's Sister's Choice grapples with the problem of first identifying and then adequately describing a philosophical and aesthetic framework that links the work of major American women writers from Fuller onwards. The question is an important and challenging one, for it addresses a...

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Todd Gitlin (review date 27 April 1997)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Gitlin, Todd. “Millennial Mumbo Jumbo.” Los Angeles Times Book Review (27 April 1997): 8.

[In the following excerpt, Gitlin commends Showalter's cultural analysis of texts and fads in Hystories: Hysterical Epidemics and Modern Culture, but finds shortcomings in her selective approach and tendency toward “ultra-Freudian logic.”]

Headlong passion was always said to be female, while men, even as they lost their heads, were supposed to be cool. Throughout history, men have been the accusers, diagnosticians and judges, women the witches, patients and victims. Today, allegations of satanic abuse, extraterrestrial abduction, multiple personality and...

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Frederick Crews (review date 12 May 1997)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Crews, Frederick. “Keeping Us In Hysterics.” New Republic 216, no. 19 (12 May 1997): 35-8, 40-3.

[In the following review, Crews argues that Showalter “builds no conceptual bridge” between her topics in Hystories: Hysterical Epidemics and Modern Culture, noting that Showalter's arguments are weak and poorly supported.]

For over a decade now, the object of keenest interest within American interdisciplinary scholarship has been a disease, and a possibly nonexistent one. As Elaine Showalter, Avalon Foundation Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University, puts it near the outset of her own latest contribution to the field [Hystories:...

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Mark S. Micale (review date 16 May 1997)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Micale, Mark S. “Strange Signs of the Times.” Times Literary Supplement, no. 4911 (16 May 1997): 6-7.

[In the following review, Micale praises Showalter's examination of feminine hysteria in Hystories: Hysterical Epidemics and Modern Culture.]

The ritualized self-immolation of thirty-nine members of the Heaven's Gate sect near San Diego, California, late last March could almost be seen as a promotional event for Hystories: Hysterical Epidemics and Modern Culture, Elaine Showalter's provocative and immensely readable new book. Showalter examines a series of large-scale functional psychopathologies, originating in the United States but now...

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Melissa Benn (review date 13 June 1997)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Benn, Melissa. “Out of Control?” New Statesman 126, no. 4338 (13 June 1997): 48.

[In the following review of Hystories: Hysterical Epidemics and Modern Culture, Benn commends the “impressive clarity” of Showalter's discussion, but finds flaws in her presumptuous assertions about the nature of mysterious new afflictions.]

It is rare for a book of cultural criticism to make so much real world trouble. But Elaine Showalter, professor of English at Princeton University and a television critic, has provoked outraged reactions in the US with [Hystories: Hysterical Epidemics and Modern Culture,] even to the point of death threats. A male friend...

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Steve Sailer (review date 1 September 1997)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Sailer, Steve. “Hysteria, His and Hers.” National Review 49, no. 16 (1 September 1997): 48-50.

[In the following review, Sailer contends that Hystories: Hysterical Epidemics and Modern Culture is a “sensible but limited book” as a result of Showalter's rationalist feminist perspective.]

Sometimes you get what you ask for. Back in 1985 Elaine Showalter, a Princeton English professor specializing in the social history of mental health, concluded her critique of the traditional psychotherapy profession by proclaiming: “The best hope for the future is the feminist therapy movement.” By 1997, the mental-health industry has become thoroughly...

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Taner Edis and Amy Sue Bix (review date September-October 1997)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Edis, Taner, and Amy Sue Bix. “Tales of Hysteria.” Skeptical Inquirer 21, no. 5 (September-October 1997): 52-3.

[In the following review, Edis and Bix offer a positive assessment of Hystories: Hysterical Epidemics and Modern Culture, but note flaws in Showalter's exaggeration of medieval millennial panic, her defense of psychoanalysis, and her premature dismissal of chronic fatigue and Gulf War syndrome.]

We skeptics do more these days than shake our heads at psychics or roll our eyes at UFO-abduction tales. Because postmodern humanities scholars seem out to drag science down, the Skeptical Inquirer keeps tabs on relativist philosophers,...

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Virginia T. Bemis (review date spring 1998)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Bemis, Virginia T. Review of Hystories: Hysterical Epidemics and Modern Culture, by Elaine Showalter. NWSA Journal 10, no. 1 (spring 1998): 172-73.

[In the following review of Hystories, Bemis commends Showalter's historical overview of psychoanalytic theory, but objects to her “Eurocentric” view of millennial panic and her generalized, dismissive treatment of chronic fatigue and Gulf War syndrome.]

Controversial books relating to Women's Studies reach the shelves fairly regularly. Some are picked up by the mass media, land their authors on the talk-show circuit, and occasion much debate outside the standard academic circles. In the past few...

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Deirdre English (review date 11 June 2001)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: English, Deirdre. “Wollstonecraft to Lady Di.” Nation 272, no. 23 (11 June 2001): 44-9.

[In the following review, English lauds the central themes of Inventing Herself: Claiming a Feminist Intellectual Heritage, complimenting the unlikely parallels that Showalter creates between the lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Diana, Princess of Wales.]

Here we go, starting on what promises to be a pleasantly engrossing tour of the landmarks of three centuries of Anglo-American intellectual feminism, guided by a seriously impressive scholar, Elaine Showalter of Princeton University. Showalter is the erudite author of some classic feminist literary texts and a...

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Kathryn Hughes (review date 18 June 2001)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Hughes, Kathryn. “Holding the Middle Ground.” New Statesman 130, no. 4542 (18 June 2001): 52-3.

[In the following review of Inventing Herself: Claiming a Feminist Intellectual Heritage, Hughes praises Showalter's accessible writing style, but criticizes her methodology and diluted analysis.]

When Elaine Showalter published A Literature of Their Own in 1977, it was a revelation and a celebration all in one. In her characteristically fluent prose, she suggested that British women's writing in the 19th and 20th centuries (her bookends were the Brontës and Doris Lessing) had been systematically sidelined, obscured and trivialised. Now here was...

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Sara Maitland (review date 30 June 2001)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Maitland, Sara. “Oprah Winfrey Joins Diana, Princess of Wales.” Spectator 286, no. 9021 (30 June 2001): 44.

[In the following review, Maitland argues that Inventing Herself: Claiming a Feminist Intellectual Heritage suffers from a lack of thematic focus and overall “trivial” subject material.]

Something has gone wildly awry with [Inventing Herself: Claiming a Feminist Intellectual Heritage]. I am bemused. I am especially bemused because I am an Elaine Showalter fan. Over many years and generous books she has opened up aspects of feminist ‘critical theory’ (both literary and cultural) to a wider audience by the elegance and readability...

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Brenda Wineapple (review date July 2001)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Wineapple, Brenda. “Unparalleled Lives.” Women's Review of Books 18, nos. 10-11 (July 2001): 34-5.

[In the following review, Wineapple offers a generally favorable assessment of Inventing Herself: Claiming a Feminist Intellectual Heritage.]

Everybody's doing it: in the fourteenth century Boccaccio did it in tales of 106 famous women that extol their dominion and inventiveness—as well as some more predictable virtues, like long-suffering patience. (They've just been freshly translated by Virginia Brown and republished by Harvard.) More recently Phyllis Rose did it in her slim collection, Writing of Women (1985), and Susan Ware did it in her...

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Hermione Lee (review date 10 August 2001)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Lee, Hermione. “Rule-breakers Rule.” Times Literary Supplement, no. 5132 (10 August 2001): 22.

[In the following review, Lee commends Showalter's “energetic and opinionated” arguments in Inventing Herself: Claiming a Feminist Intellectual Heritage.]

“Life stories retain their power when theories fade.” So Elaine Showalter claims at the start of her book of energetic and opinionated “claiming”, [Inventing Herself: Claiming a Feminist Intellectual Heritage,] turning her back on feminist literary criticism and social history in favour of a collection of potted biographies of notable women. These are not, as she explains, the standard...

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David Nokes (review date 25 January 2003)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Nokes, David. “Classics in the Classroom.” Spectator 291, no. 9103 (25 January 2003): 48-9.

[In the following review, Nokes criticizes Teaching Literature, arguing that Showalter fails to present “any serious or settled argument about the nature of teaching English.”]

There comes a time when all professors of literature think of writing a book like this [Teaching Literature]. Elaine Showalter has been professing it for 40 years, and after such a long and varied career what could be more apposite or timely than to share the wisdom of such experience with her younger colleagues? The answer, I fear, is much. She should have been gently...

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