Critical Condition: Feminism at the Turn of the Century

Susan Gubar, Author Columbia University Press $40 (256p) ISBN 978-0-231-11580-3
Is feminism dead, as Time magazine famously inquired? Has critical feminist inquiry in the academy become either so fragmented or so specialized as to be irrelevant to women's real lives? Finally, and most poignantly, have intergenerational friction and the quest for political correctness destroyed the common ground that feminists once believed they shared? Gubar, who, with Susan M. Gilbert, was one of the founders of contemporary feminist literary criticism (Madwoman in the Attic; No Man's Land), turns her attention to the questions now vexing academic feminism(s). In essays written over the course of the last decade, and variously devoted to the intersection of feminist criticism and race, lesbian studies, Jewish studies and the situation of established female university faculty, Gubar struggles toward a conclusion that is largely optimistic, if decidedly nuanced. She calls upon feminist critics to continue a tradition of irreverence and redefinition in order to capture the imaginations of their students, who have been encouraged to view feminism as now pass . Mixing essays originally written for specialist readers with those of somewhat broader appeal, this book may present some difficulties for the general reader, but will provoke interest and debate among those laboring to maintain a feminist stance in the increasingly fragmented academic world, as well as provide them some cheer. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/10/2000
Release date: 01/01/2000
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