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What is a feminist novel?

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Quick Answer

A feminist novel is a book that supports the goal of equal rights for women. These include women's civic, economic and political rights.

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Full Answer

Feminist novels can be found as far back as the 15th century. A few books from that time period are "The Book of the City of Ladies" and "The Treasure of the City of Ladies," both by Christine de Pisan and published around 1405. One well-known novel, perhaps not considered one with a feminist twist by many, is "The Tale of Joan of Arc" by Christine de Pisan, published in 1429. Feminist writings have continued to recent years. One of the more current novels includes "Cinnamon" by Samar Yazbek, published in 2012.

There are some schools of thought and criticisms when it comes to feminist literature, however. These include

  • First wave feminism, or men's treatment of women
  • Second wave feminism, or gynocriticism
  • The madwoman thesis
  • French feminism

There are also three phases of women's writings, as stated by Elaine Showalter in her book "A Literature of Their Own." These phases are:

  • The "Feminine" Phase, where women wrote as men
  • The "Feminist" Phase, where the central theme was criticism of women's oppression in society
  • The "Female" Phase, where the works came across as less combative than those of the Feminist Phase.

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