How A 'Madwoman' Upended A Literary Boys Club
How many works of literary criticism have become classics themselves?
The Western canon was not liberated overnight, but Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar certainly stuck a wedge firmly into the frat house door when they wrote The Madwoman in the Attic. The two were, then, young professors at Indiana University and had co-taught a course in women's literature when they stumbled onto, what they called in their introduction, a "distinctively female literary tradition ... which no one had yet defined in its entirety." . . .
The undercover female tradition that Gilbert and Gubar were talking about was one in which writers as disparate as Austen, Emily Dickinson, the Brontes, Louisa May Alcott and George Eliot used similar themes and images to dramatize the social limitations they themselves suffered as women.