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The "new woman" fiction and fin-de-Sièck feminism

Heilmann, Ann ORCID: 1996. The "new woman" fiction and fin-de-Sièck feminism. Women’s Writing 3 (3) , pp. 197-216. 10.1080/0969908960030302

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This paper deals with a popular fin-de-sièck genre which reflected and fictionalized contemporary debates on the New Woman. In reclaiming the much-berated notion of propaganda literature, I argue that in its most typical form New Woman fiction was a female-authored and feminist genre. It was produced by and for women, and proved immensely successful as a means of promoting and popularizing the main concerns of the nineteeth-century women's movement. In defining the characteristics of the genre, I discuss the marked differences between feminist and anti-feminist writing of the fin de siecle. While ant-ifeminist works tended to be aesthetically one-dimensional, feminists wrote at the intersection of a number of textual traditions, such as the social document, the political pamphlet, auto/biography, and fiction. Male writers who concerned themselves with the New Woman colonized the genre in order to attack feminism and to explore misogynist sexual fantasies; femal anti-feminist novels were riddled with contradictions which reveal the ideological inconsistencies in their writers’ lives. Neither group produced definitive New Woman fiction which was a committed feminist genre.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Publisher: Taylor and Francis
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2022 10:33

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