The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1962  Wednesday, 25 September 2002

From:           Annalisa Castaldo <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 24 Sep 2002 11:23:08 -0400
Subject: 13.1947 Isabella - and Feminist Criticism
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1947 Isabella - and Feminist Criticism

I would be thrilled to think that "serious, respectful works of
criticism always addressed male and female characters equally as
*persons*" but I don't generally believe it for several reasons. First,
even if people don't mean to be dismissive, they will naturally spend
more time on things/people/situations like than unlike them, and praise
them more highly too. Second, for many centuries, the works themselves
were not providing equal treatment of women and men. Women usually fill
the roles that only a woman can fulfill (heterosexual love interest,
mother), and men fill all the other roles. So women are less available
to be discussed.

In addition, feminist criticism doesn't just deal with the characters,
but looks at the edges of the work, the dark or blank spaces of what
isn't said, or is ignored. This is where I find feminist criticism most
interesting and useful.

I have to say I'm a bit saddened by your hierarchy of value. "Are not
feminist critics turning from that deeper concept of *person*, and
therefore from the unifying, philosophic, essentially artistic/literary
and universal elements of literature to pursue the lesser aspects of
politics, psychology and sociology?" I don't believe that the best thing
I can do with a text (or any work of art) is to see it as perfectly
complete and unified/universal. I find that I learn more from the
fissures and ambiguities, and in contemplating the questions brought up
by politics, psychology and sociology. If every great work is universal
and deep, in the end, every work is the same (otherwise how could they
be universal?) I want my art to reflect my life - complex, knotty,
multicultural, confusing, rich, ambiguous and worth investigating again
and again.

Annalisa Castaldo

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