On Women Writers

So Salon has an interesting article by Laura Miller entitled "Why Can't a Woman Write the Great American Novel?" The article is actually a review of a book, "A Jury of Her Peers: American Women Writers From Anne Bradstreet to Annie Proulx," by Elizabeth Showalter.

Here's some of what Miller writes in the Salon piece:

Why, for example, did Britain produce several women novelists of genius during the 19th century -- Jane Austen, George Eliot and the Brontës, as well as accomplished lesser artists like Elizabeth Gaskell -- while America did not? That question could (and sometimes does) lead to a lot of speculation on the national characters of the English-speaking peoples, but Showalter mentions an equally plausible, practical cause: "While English women novelists, even those as poor as the Brontës, had servants, American women were expected to clean, cook and sew; even in the South, white women in slaveholding families were trained in domestic arts." Quite a few of the short biographical sketches she offers feature women complaining about being compelled by parents to learn to make pies or mend when they would rather write.

For the entire article go here.


  1. Renee!

    Let's face it: I would rather write than deal with my committee. But like those 19th century menders and pie-makers, I have to make this work. I just read your guest entry on Tayari's blog through a Google search, and nearly teared up. I love how all these people from your past (including a student) commented! I was so proud. :)

    Meanwhile, I'm beginning to think I did this all wrong. This whole time, I should have been sharing my work you and the other VOCs. Can I bring pages to our get-together on Saturday?

    Also, visit my blog! There's a poll up!

  2. Want,
    I agree that the MFA community is different from a writing community that develops because the writers are attracted to each other and to each other's ideas. That's what VOC is for! Bring your stuff on Saturday.