The Three Primary Schools of Feminist Theory

What is feminist theory and what are its primary assumptions and critical strategies?

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...Own, 1919), Simone de Beauvoir (The Second Sex, 1949), Kate Millett (Sexual Politics, 1969), and Elaine Showalter (A Literature of Their Own, 1977). Today, Millet and Showalter are joined feminists such as bell hooks (Teaching to Transgress: Education As the Practice of Freedom, 1994), Teresa de Lauretis (Technologies of Gender: Essays on Theory, Film, and Fiction, 1987), and Griselda Pollock (Differencing the Canon: Feminist Desire and the Writing of Art Histories, 1999).

Feminist critics share with Marxists an awareness of literature as an ideological force in culture. From this general awareness, several distinct areas of focus have developed in feminist literary criticism. Some critics have focused on rediscovering and rearticulating previously disenfranchised or suppressed female voices. Others have reassessed traditional literary texts with an attention to their inherently engendered elements of content or form. Still others have explored the awakening female consciousness often dramatized in ...