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English Literature   >   Feminist Literary Criticism

What is Feminism?

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Feminist Literary Criticism

In this course, Dr Fiona Tolan (Liverpool John Moores University) explores the origins and application of feminist literary criticism. We start with a broad consideration of what feminism is, from its origins in the women’s suffrage movement to the MeToo movement today. In the second module, we move to consider how the theoretical developments of second-wave feminism allow critics to interrogate texts from a feminist perspective, focusing on Kate Millet’s work in this capacity. In the third module, we explore the concept of gynocriticism, as an approach to increase the female authors in the canon. In the fourth module, we learn about French feminism and the concept of écriture féminine. In the fifth module, we apply the lens of feminist criticism to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby (1925), interrogating the author’s portrayal of women. Finally, we analyse Margaret Atwood’s novel A Handmaid’s Tale (1985) from a feminist perspective, focusing on the ways in which it engages with gendered power dynamics.

What is Feminism?

In this module, we explore the history of feminism, focusing in particular on: (i) the first wave of feminism, and its struggle for property and the right to vote, (ii) second wave feminism, and its emphasis on theoretical development and activism, (iii) third wave feminism, and its focus on intersectionality, (iv) the discussion of a fourth wave, and (v) figures in between waves, such as Simone de Beauvoir.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Tolan, F. (2022, November 07). Feminist Literary Criticism - What is Feminism? [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Tolan, F. "Feminist Literary Criticism – What is Feminism?." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 07 Nov 2022,

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Dr Fiona Tolan

Liverpool John Moores University