A concept introduced by Elaine Showalter in Towards a Feminist Poetics gynocriticism refers to a kind of criticism with woman as writer/producer of textual meaning, as against woman as reader (feminist critique). Being concerned with the specificity of women’s writings (gynotexts) and women’s experiences, it focuses on female subjectivity, female language and female literary career, and attempts to construct a female framework for the analysis of literature.
Gynocritics are primarily engaged in identifying distinctly feminine subject matter (domesticity, gestation) in the literature written by women, uncovering the history of female literary tradition, depicting that there is a feminine mode of experience and subjectivity in thinking and perceiving the self and the world , and specifying traits of “woman’s language”, a distinctively feminine style of speech and writing. Some of the gynocritical texts include Patricia Meyer Spacks‘ The Female Imagination, Ellen Moers‘ Literary Women, Elaine Showalter’s A Literature of their Own and Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar’s The Madwoman in the Attic, which elucidates the anxiety of authorship that arises from the notion that literary creativity is an exclusive male prerogative, and it is this anxiety that creates a counter figure for the idealised woman, the mad woman (modelled on Bertha Rochester in Jane Eyre). Gynocriticism was criticised for essentialism.
Categories: Literary Theory