The Literary Horizon: The Madwoman in the Attic, Rereading Women

Well, it’s that time of my undergraduate career. It’s time for my senior thesis project. Well, not immediately—I’m a junior for a few days yet!—but I will be spending May buried under Jane Eyre, academic texts on Jane Eyre, and books derived from Jane Eyre. One text in particular that is on my reading list for this project is already on my reading list. Today’s selections even share an author, goodness.

The Madwoman in the Attic by Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar

This pathbreaking book of feminist criticism is now reissued with a substantial new introduction by Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar that reveals the origins of their revolutionary realization in the 1970s that “the personal was the political, the sexual was the textual.”

via Yale University Press

Oh, come on, I’m an English Literature major at a women’s college. I probably got this recommendation just by looking at one of my professors. It’s a classic for a reason, folks.

Susan Henricks at metapsychology online reviews found it thoughtful, pointing out that it deals with history more than you might expect from literary criticism; Joseph LaGraffe at We Other Victorians has found it incredibly useful.

The Madwoman in the Attic was published in 1979.

Rereading Women by Sandra Gilbert

“We think back through our mothers if we are women,” wrote Virginia Woolf. In this groundbreaking series of essays, Sandra M. Gilbert explores how our literary mothers have influenced us in our writing and in life. She considers the effects of these literary mothers by examining her own history and the work of such luminaries as Charlotte Brontë, Emily Dickinson, and Sylvia Plath. In the course of the book, she charts her own development as a feminist, demonstrates ways of understanding the dynamics of gender and genre, and traces the redefinitions of maternity reflected in texts by authors such as Elizabeth Barrett Browning and George Eliot.

Throughout, Gilbert asks major questions about feminism in the twentieth century: Why and how did its ideas become so necessary to women in the sixties and seventies? What have those feminist concepts come to mean in the new century? And above all, how have our intellectual mothers shaped our thoughts today?

via Amazon

I have this listed as Ana’s fault, but there’s no review up over at things mean a lot. Mysterious! There’s nothing quite like hindsight, of course, and I think this would be fascinating to read after The Madwoman in the Attic. And hey, it would probably be useful for my paper. Ha!

Eva at A Striped Armchair enjoyed it and found it quite accessible; Stefanie at So Many Books also enjoyed it, to the point of considering a tattoo based on an essay. (That’s love, people.)

Rereading Women was published on May 2, 2011.

8 thoughts on “The Literary Horizon: The Madwoman in the Attic, Rereading Women

  1. So happy to hear you are writing on Jane Eyre, Clare! I was this close to writing mine on Villette, but switched to A Room with a View at the last minute. But with very similar themes of Victorian womenhood and what now. So I’ll be diving back into Madwoman in the Attic too!

  2. So glad to hear that you are writing on Jane Eyre, Clare! I was this close to doing mine on Villette, but I switched to A Room with a View. But definitely with similar themes still in mind! It looks like I”ll be rereading Madwoman in the Attic too.

  3. Like most English majors I read The Mad Woman in the Attic for class, and I did find it very useful and appreciated how groundbreaking it was. But on the whole it drew a little too much from psychoanalytic theory for my liking, and so I found some of the arguments unconvincing. It also has its blind spots when it comes to class or race, but then again that’s common to many feminist classics from this period. As for Rereading Women, I haven’t read it yet, but I might have mentioned it in a We Want It post on Lady Business. It’s been tempting me for a while 😛

    Best of luck with your senior thesis!

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