Inventing Herself: Claiming a Feminist Intellectual Heritage

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Simon and Schuster, Mar 20, 2001 - Social Science - 384 pages
Sure to take its place alongside the literary landmarks of modern feminism, Elaine Showalter's brilliant, provocative work chronicles the roles of feminist intellectuals from the eighteenth century to the present.
With sources as diverse as A Vindication of the Rights of Woman and Scream 2, Inventing Herself is an expansive and timely exploration of women who possess a boundless determination to alter the world by boldly experiencing love, achievement, and fame on a grand scale. These women tried to work, travel, think, love, and even die in ways that were ahead of their time. In doing so, they forged an epic history that each generation of adventurous women has rediscovered.
Focusing on paradigmatic figures ranging from Mary Wollstonecraft and Margaret Fuller to Germaine Greer and Susan Sontag, preeminent scholar Elaine Showalter uncovers common themes and patterns of these women's lives across the centuries and discovers the feminist intellectual tradition they embodied. The author brilliantly illuminates the contributions of Eleanor Marx, Zora Neale Hurston, Simone de Beauvoir, Margaret Mead, and many more.
Showalter, a highly regarded critic known for her provocative and strongly held opinions, has here established a compelling new Who's Who of women's thought. Certain to spark controversy, the omission of such feminist perennials as Susan B. Anthony, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Virginia Woolf will surprise and shock the conventional wisdom.
This is not a history of perfect women, but rather of real women, whose mistakes and even tragedies are instructive and inspiring for women today who are still trying to invent themselves.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - startingover - LibraryThing

Good stuff on Mary Wollstonecraft, Olive Schreiner; interesting on Simone de B; don't know why she even gave book space to Camille Paglia, although it helped to re-affirm why I never could stand to ... Read full review

INVENTING HERSELF: Claiming a Feminist Intellectual Heritage

User Review  - Kirkus

Feminist scholar Showalter (Sister's Choice, 1991, etc.) stirs together literary history, biography, personal reminiscence, and pop culture in a peculiar narrative that devotes as much time to female ... Read full review


Adventures in Womanhood
Mary Wollstonecraft
Margaret Fuller
The Feminine Predicament
Charlotte Perkins Gilman
A Feminist Tribe
Heterodoxy in Britain
Zenobia on the Hudson
Susan Sontag
Before the Revolution
The 1970s
Germaine Greer and the Female Eunuch
Camille PagliaWoman Alone
First Ladies The Way We Live Now

Simone de Beauvoir

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About the author (2001)

Elaine Showalter, Emeritus Professor of English at Princeton University, combines scholarly expertise in English and American literature with a passion for a wide range of cultural subjects. She has written ten books, most recently The Civil Wars of Julia Ward Howe: A Biography and A Jury of Her Peers: American Women Writers from Anne Bradstreet to Annie Proulx, which was awarded the Truman Capote Prize for Literary Criticism. Her writing has appeared in the Times Literary Supplement, People, and Vogue.

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