Author Archive

A Defense of Writerly Obsessions

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Every writer has obsessions. These range from overarching themes, like the exploration of Jewish identity that characterizes many a Philip Roth novel, to extremely, sometimes bizarrely, specific motifs. Where some would criticize this repetition as a dearth of original ideas, such lifelong attempts to work through fixations can be

Ariadne’s Journey to Consciousness in Analicia Sotelo’s Virgin

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Feminists have long attempted to “take back” feminine mythological figures and reconceptualize male-centric myths, but Analicia Sotelo’s poetry collection goes further, not only subverting feminine stereotypes but also challenging the common wisdom of the symbolic “feminine.”

Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects and the Repression of Women’s Anger

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Where other recent feminist works have focused on women’s anger sparked by sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape, Flynn’s novel attributes this rage to unrealistic and gendered expectations of perfection.

In Defense of the Unsatisfying Ending: The Virgin Suicides

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When I read this passage at fifteen years old, I was furious. I thought this ending, which centered the boys’ narrative over the girls’, undermined everything that came before. I felt dissatisfied, like I had been cheated out of a proper ending. But that frustration was ultimately very productive.

The Conflicted Feminism of Little Women

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Louisa May Alcott’s 1868 novel mostly celebrates traditional gender roles and places a rosy, wistful haze over its portrayal of domestic life. But her well-rounded portrayal of imperfect women has afforded the novel a long-lasting relationship to feminist thought.

Leonora Carrington’s Surrealist Revolution

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Carrington’s novel seeks to upend retrograde Surrealist tropes about women. But rather than portraying a more typical feminist utopia in which women reign supreme, the novel aims to create a gender-neutral world that embodies a very different Surrealist ideal: pneuma.

Lydia Davis’s “Ethics” and the Instability of Logic

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The short stories of Lydia Davis, in spite of their infamous brevity, often work on at least three levels. In the case of “Ethics,” a paragraph-long fiction that humorously interrogates the Golden Rule, the story works as a character study, a reductio ad absurdum argument, and a larger

The Domino Effect of Maleness in Literary Criticism

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Studies consistently show that women read more than men, and that the publishing industry is dominated by (white) women. So why, then, are male writers still reviewed in prestigious publications at far higher rates than women?

The High-Low Collapse in Dana Ward’s The Crisis of Infinite Worlds

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Dana Ward’s collection is the very picture of postmodern poetry: compulsively self-conscious and concerned with the act of writing as much as with the subject of his writing.

The Modernist Revision of a Foreign Culture in Ezra Pound’s Cathay

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Pound, a white man who couldn’t speak or read a word of Chinese, was not even necessarily attempting to faithfully recreate Cathay’s poems in English; he rewrote the poems to fit into American modernist aesthetics, bringing ancient Chinese poetry into his own place and time.