A brilliant, sweeping history of the contemporary women’s movement told through the lives and works of the literary women who shaped it.
Forty years after their first groundbreaking work of feminist literary theory, The Madwoman in the Attic, award-winning collaborators Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar map the literary history of feminism’s second wave.
From its stirrings in the midcentury—when Sylvia Plath, Betty Friedan, and Joan Didion found their voices and Diane di Prima, Lorraine Hansberry, and Audre Lorde discovered community in rebellion—to a resurgence in the new millennium in the writings of Alison Bechdel, Claudia Rankine, and N. K. Jemisin, Gilbert and Gubar trace the evolution of feminist literature. They offer lucid, compassionate, and piercing readings of major works by these writers and others, including Adrienne Rich, Ursula K. Le Guin, Maxine Hong Kingston, Susan Sontag, Gloria Anzaldúa, and Toni Morrison. Activists and theorists like Nina Simone, Gloria Steinem, Andrea Dworkin, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, and Judith Butler also populate these pages as Gilbert and Gubar examine the overlapping terrain of literature and politics in a comprehensive portrait of an expanding movement.
As Gilbert and Gubar chart feminist gains—including creative new forms of protests and changing attitudes toward gender and sexuality—they show how the legacies of second wave feminists, and the misogynistic culture they fought, extend to the present. In doing so, they celebrate the diversity and urgency of women who have turned passionate rage into powerful writing.
About the Author
Sandra M. Gilbert is a distinguished literary critic and poet. Together with Susan Gubar, she was awarded the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award from the NBCC. She lives in Berkeley, California.
Susan Gubar is an acclaimed memoirist and literary critic. Together with Sandra M. Gilbert, she was awarded the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award from the NBCC. She lives in Bloomington, Indiana.
These prolific and versatile women writers return to the field with incisive and redefining inquiries into the lives and work of diverse North American literary women... Gilbert and Gubar set their pinpoint elucidations within a richly dimensional context.
— Booklist (starred review)
Four decades after their influential book, The Madwoman in the Attic, Gilbert and Gubar offer a comprehensive, evolutionary update... Gilbert and Gubar deftly explore decades of political and cultural history to fashion this timely and valuable book. A well-rendered who’s-who guide to the contemporary women’s movement.
— Kirkus Reviews
They’ve done it again! The personal, the political, the literary, the critical—the brilliant literary team of Gilbert and Gubar extend their foundational studies of women’s writing to encompass the twenty-first century. Tracing the key events and writers of the second wave of the women’s movement from the 1950s to the election of Biden and Harris, they map the tumultuous, explosive, and ongoing energies of American women’s writing. Make space on your bookshelf for this lively and indispensable volume.
— Elaine Showalter, professor emerita of English, Princeton University
Popular narratives of the modern women’s movement rightly emphasize the pamphlets, consciousness-raising groups, and protests that exposed and named the hidden injuries women experience in their lives. Missing from these stories are the extraordinary writers who created a new feminist literary tradition that revealed the rage and dreams of several generations of feminists. Still Mad, brilliantly curated by Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar, is an invaluable gift for understanding how great writers imagined a new and different future for women.
— Ruth Rosen, author of The World Split Open: How the Modern Women’s Movement Changed America