Ellen Moers: An Introduction

Ellen MoersLiterary Women (1976) was, along with Gilbert and Gubar’s , one of the early attempts to uncover the female literary tradition. Reading a range of authors like George Eliot, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Emily Dickinson and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Moers presents an interactional relational model of female literary history. Moers’ work explores the influence of women writers on each other. This ability and need to listen to other voices is, for Moers, a special feature of literary women. This results in the commonality of certain images, all of which are, in some form or the other, symbolic representations of the female body.

Moers’ work focuses on the practical and living history of women writers from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries. Attempting to unravel the unique experiences of women, Moers reads much archival and manuscript sources. The tradition of women writers are discussed under the traditional genres and categories such as Gothic, The Epic Age and Realism. Moving onto a discussion of literary feminism, Moers detects a heroic structure for the female voice, one that she terms “heroinism.” Heroinism includes as its constitutive features traditional ones such as loving, caring and “radical” ones such as education.

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