Feminist Literary Theory

As I am a feminist who likes to read books, it seemed appropriate to write a post about feminist literary theory. As a creative writing student, I have some understanding of literary theories but it is not as in depth as a literature student.

We probably all have an experience of sitting in English class at school being told that the author put certain things in a book to symbolise something. For example, Curly’s wife’s dress was red because red symbolised danger in Of Mice and Men by John Steinback. When you go to university, interpretations of books are not as concrete. In fact, I learnt about Roland Barthes’ theory of the Death of the Author. Basically the author has no control over the interpretation of their writing. Once a piece of work is read by a reader, they no longer have any influence. J.K. Rowling cannot tell you that the Harry Potter series is not about being gay. You may interpret through queer literary theory and no one can stop you.

Before I get to technical, what I’m try to say is that you can interpret anything in any way you wish. One way to interpret literature and all kinds of art is feminist theory. Wikipedia defines feminist literary criticism as:

literary criticism informed by feminist theory, or more broadly, by the politics of feminism. It uses the principles and ideology of feminism to critique the language of literature.

Naturally when I read books I look at in through the lens of feminism because that forms part of my perspective. My opinion on the books I read will align in some way with feminist literary criticism especially as I like to read books that has themes of empowering women and tackling the gendered issues we have in society. I want to read books that push the movement forward instead of holding it back.

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