22 Pages

Who’s Who and Where’s Where:

Constructing Feminist Literary Studies

This article is concerned with the construction of feminist literary studies in the last twenty years and points out how we have created a literary history which is both selective and schematic. It suggests that we should be more critically aware of what we are constructing, how we are constructing it and of the political consequences of those constructs. It stresses three critical modes which might help us to complicate our history: a greater awareness of institutional contexts, a concern with empirical detail, and an ongoing analysis of the cultural and political significance of feminist literary practice. This article briefly applies these critical modes in a survey of eleven introductions to feminist literary studies-introductions which feature frequently and influentially in the teaching situation. The final section focuses on the key problem of inclusion and exclusion. Considering arguments from Third World feminism and postmodernist feminism, the study concludes that white, academic feminists should confront the privilege of their own inclusion as a necessary spur to political action.