Feminist Criticism - Poetry Gynocriticism - Essay


A second approach used by American feminists is termed “gynocriticism." This method of inquiry takes as its subject the writings of women who have produced what Elaine C. Showalter, who coined the term “gynocriticism,” calls “a literature of their own.” A female literary tradition is examined to discover how women writers have historically perceived themselves and their cultures. Other goals of gynocriticism are to preserve and chronicle the history of women’s writing and to rediscover lost or neglected women writers. Showalter describes feminine writing as a form of the general experience of minority cultures, cultures that are also “Others” and whose members are struggling to find a place usually reserved for white males. This leads to the problem of multiple marginalization, since some men and women may be Others in terms of ethnicity and sexual orientation as well. In particular, the place within feminism of women of color is a controversial issue, as black writers such as Phillis Wheatley, Toni Morrison, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Nikki Giovanni challenge and enter the canon. Other practitioners of gynocriticism include Patricia Meyer Spacks and Susan Gubar.