“This Living Hand”: Thirteenth-Century Female Literacy, Materialist Immanence, and the Reader of the Ancrene eth Robertson – – Speculum. Judith Fetterley, The Resisting Reader: a Feminist Approach to American. Fiction (Bloomington and London: Indiana University Press, , X). Pp. xxvi. Judith Fetterley (born ) is a literary scholar known for her work in feminism and women’s Calling on women readers to intervene, to resist this hailing, Fetterley calls feminist criticism a political act to “to make available to consciousness.

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A Feminist Approach to American Fiction. Judith Fetterley takes up a series of classic nineteenth and twentieth-century texts to demonstrate that “American literature is male,” that “the experience of being American is equated with the experience of being male,” and that “in such fictions the female reader is co-opted into participation in an experience from which she is explicitly excluded” p.

The Resisting Reader: A Feminist Approach to American Fiction by Judith Fetterley

Elaborating on Fiedlerian premises, Fetterley has written a sophisticated, textual Iy responsive, radical feminist study that details the American dream of escaping the power of women, from the sleep of Rip Van Winkle to the waking nightmare of Stephen Rojack.

In explanation of her title, Fetterley proposes that since “women are taught to think as men, to identify with a male point of view,” “the first act of the feminist critic must be to become a resisting reader rather than an assenting reader Fetterley argues that the American dream of escaping from women who are fully potent human beings has produced a literature in which women are killed, vilified, or idealized.


Of these, the chapters on Mailer and James seem to me best. Fetterley shrewdly diagnoses the main difficulty in interpreting Mailer, which is that “it is impossible to determine to what degree lhis fetishism about being male!

Of James’s works, The Boston i ans is, of course, the most explicitly concerned with feminist Issues, though Washington Square and The Portrait of a Lady, for example, explore the same concerns.

Fetterley’s interpretations, especially of the short stories, teader compelling syntheses of psychology, history, literary history, cultural politics, and literary observation. She calls “Rip Van Winkle” “the inevitable dreamwork of the persona created by Benjamin Franklin in his Autobiography, the inevitable consequence of the massive suppressions required by Franklin’s code of success. Redaer voice to which RIp gives ear is the exact opposite of the [Franklin!

Fetterley then turns this interpretation on a feminist axis: Irving’s ant i femini sm, she notes, makes Rip’s flight fetterey the mountains contain “the classic hhe of American male culture: In Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily,” she argues that “men’s attitudes toward women turn back upon themselves; it is a demonstration of the thesis that it is impossible to oppress without in turn being oppressed, it is impossible to kill without creating the conditions for your own murder.


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Judith Fetterley

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