cover image A Brief History of Feminism

A Brief History of Feminism

Patu and Antje Schrupp, trans. from the French by Sophie Lewis. MIT, $14.95 trade paper (88p) ISBN 978-0-262-03711-2

This collaboration between artist Patu and journalist Schrupp (Vote for Victoria!) is a succinct and sharp-toothed graphic narrative charting Western feminism’s development from antiquity to the present day. The panels alternate between portraits of significant women and tableaux illustrating major currents of thought, often laced with humor. Complicated debates are impressively condensed into a single panel or sentence. The premodern discussion within the Christian church about how a woman could be “more like a man” is represented in a simple picture of a woman being gifted a penis by God, as the discussion of “man-like” was turning at the time from behavior to biology. The book captures how women’s concerns have varied across time, and how feminism intersects with other social movements such as socialism and racial equality. The inclusion of prominent activists from France (Olympe de Gouges), Germany (Hedwig Dohm), and Russia (Emma Goldman) is a welcome change to the Anglocentric bent of most English-language histories, and the illustrations are rich in period detail and dress. The book powerfully organizes feminism’s many distinct terms, aims, and methods into a concise and savvy series of images. It’s a great overview of a complicated subject. (Sept.)