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Gender and community: Womanist and feminist perspectives in the fiction of Toni Morrison, Amy Tan, Sandra Cisneros, and Louise Erdrich

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Title: Gender and community: Womanist and feminist perspectives in the fiction of Toni Morrison, Amy Tan, Sandra Cisneros, and Louise Erdrich
Author(s): Ryan, Marya Mae
Doctoral Committee Chair(s): Watts, Emily S.
Department / Program: English
Discipline: English
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: Ph.D.
Genre: Dissertation
Subject(s): Women's Studies Literature, American
Abstract: The forms of feminism that are articulated in the constructions of gender identity in the fiction of Toni Morrison, Amy Tan, Sandra Cisneros, and Louise Erdrich arise from and vary with their constructions of community. In the U.S., the women's suffrage movement and the mainstream feminist movements of the past three decades have concentrated on challenging middle-class Euroamerican patriarchal definitions of womanhood. Women of color and working class women have, for the most part, worked independently of predominantly middle-class Euroamerican feminist organizations and often within the context of movements for racial and economic justice, recognizing the multiple forms of oppression that they live under. The feminism that is articulated by women of color and working class women recognizes the complex interrelations among patriarchy, racism, and the class structure, giving rise to a multiplicity of notions of womanhood that decenter both Euroamerican patriarchal constructs of the feminine and middle-class Euroamerican feminist categories of oppression and resistance. It is a feminism that opposes not only gender hierarchies but racial and economic hierarchies, while recognizing the culturally specific experiences of women across cultures. This feminism--U.S. third world feminism or, to use Alice Walker's term, womanism--is articulated in the fiction of Toni Morrison, Sandra Cisneros, and Louise Erdrich. The gender identities of their characters arise concretely from the particularities of the communities in which those characters live. Amy Tan's focus contrasts with theirs: she articulates a liberal feminism that bases itself on a universal, cross-cultural set of experiences that prioritizes gender oppression over racial or economic oppression.
Issue Date: 1995
Type: Text
Language: English
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/21532
Rights Information: Copyright 1995 Ryan, Marya Mae
Date Available in IDEALS: 2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog: AAI9543711
OCLC Identifier: (UMI)AAI9543711
 

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