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January 28 Notes: Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Page history last edited by PBworks 16 years, 5 months ago

Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860-1935) was a prominent social critic and feminist writer in the United States of the period from the 1890s through the 1930s. In Herland, originally published in 1915, Gilman creates a utopian society made up entirely of women, creating around this homosocial (or one-sex) society a culture, political system, and familial arrangement that grew out of the society of women, rather than simply the absence of men. While other American utopian novels, such as Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward, were prominently read for years after their publication, Herland was largely forgotten until it was republished in the 1970s. Gilman's readers in the 1970s found in Herland a fresh and funny satire, full of insights that still speak to the condition of American women even after eighty years. (http://www.library.csi.cuny.edu/dept/history/lavender/herland.html)


Women and Economics (1889)--see separate notes for


Yellow Wallpaper (1890)

  • Based on her own experience.  Sense of Gilman's hidden conflicts about mothering and service.  Wish for self-expression (her work) and guilt about failing her husband and child.


Herland (1915)--see separate notes for


Man-Made World (1911)

Five new ideas for literary plots:

1.  Position of young woman who is called to give up her "career"--her humanness for marriage and who objects to it

2.  Middle-aged woman who at last discovers that her discontent is social starvation--she wants more business, not love, in her life

3.  Inter-relation of women with women

4.  Maturity--long drama of the personal relationship between women and children

5.  New attitude of full-grown woman who faces the demands of love with the high standards of conscious motherhood--answer to "masculine literature"


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