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Still Mad: American Women Writers and the Feminist Imagination

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Forty years after their first groundbreaking work of feminist literary theory, The Madwoman in the Attic, award-winning collaborators Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar map the literary history of feminism’s second wave. From its stirrings in the midcentury—when Sylvia Plath, Betty Friedan, and Joan Didion found their voices and Diane di Prima, Lorraine Hansberry, and Audre Forty years after their first groundbreaking work of feminist literary theory, The Madwoman in the Attic, award-winning collaborators Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar map the literary history of feminism’s second wave. From its stirrings in the midcentury—when Sylvia Plath, Betty Friedan, and Joan Didion found their voices and Diane di Prima, Lorraine Hansberry, and Audre Lorde discovered community in rebellion—to a resurgence in the new millennium in the writings of Alison Bechdel, Claudia Rankine, and N. K. Jemisin, Gilbert and Gubar trace the evolution of feminist literature. They offer lucid, compassionate, and piercing readings of major works by these writers and others, including Adrienne Rich, Ursula K. Le Guin, Maxine Hong Kingston, Susan Sontag, Gloria Anzaldúa, and Toni Morrison. Activists and theorists like Nina Simone, Gloria Steinem, Andrea Dworkin, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, and Judith Butler also populate these pages as Gilbert and Gubar examine the overlapping terrain of literature and politics in a comprehensive portrait of an expanding movement. As Gilbert and Gubar chart feminist gains—including creative new forms of protests and changing attitudes toward gender and sexuality—they show how the legacies of second wave feminists, and the misogynistic culture they fought, extend to the present. In doing so, they celebrate the diversity and urgency of women who have turned passionate rage into powerful writing.


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Forty years after their first groundbreaking work of feminist literary theory, The Madwoman in the Attic, award-winning collaborators Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar map the literary history of feminism’s second wave. From its stirrings in the midcentury—when Sylvia Plath, Betty Friedan, and Joan Didion found their voices and Diane di Prima, Lorraine Hansberry, and Audre Forty years after their first groundbreaking work of feminist literary theory, The Madwoman in the Attic, award-winning collaborators Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar map the literary history of feminism’s second wave. From its stirrings in the midcentury—when Sylvia Plath, Betty Friedan, and Joan Didion found their voices and Diane di Prima, Lorraine Hansberry, and Audre Lorde discovered community in rebellion—to a resurgence in the new millennium in the writings of Alison Bechdel, Claudia Rankine, and N. K. Jemisin, Gilbert and Gubar trace the evolution of feminist literature. They offer lucid, compassionate, and piercing readings of major works by these writers and others, including Adrienne Rich, Ursula K. Le Guin, Maxine Hong Kingston, Susan Sontag, Gloria Anzaldúa, and Toni Morrison. Activists and theorists like Nina Simone, Gloria Steinem, Andrea Dworkin, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, and Judith Butler also populate these pages as Gilbert and Gubar examine the overlapping terrain of literature and politics in a comprehensive portrait of an expanding movement. As Gilbert and Gubar chart feminist gains—including creative new forms of protests and changing attitudes toward gender and sexuality—they show how the legacies of second wave feminists, and the misogynistic culture they fought, extend to the present. In doing so, they celebrate the diversity and urgency of women who have turned passionate rage into powerful writing.

30 review for Still Mad: American Women Writers and the Feminist Imagination

  1. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    Giveaway Win! I like to enter giveaways, I think you my bookish friends are aware of that by now. I'm cheap so I don't like to buy books or really anything but I do love to shop(I'm a messy bitch). I will enter any giveaway that seems interesting, when it comes to books I of course wanna win books that I've been anticipating but I also like to win books I haven't heard of that sound interesting. Still Mad is one of those books. This book is actually a sequel to a book called The Madwoman in the A Giveaway Win! I like to enter giveaways, I think you my bookish friends are aware of that by now. I'm cheap so I don't like to buy books or really anything but I do love to shop(I'm a messy bitch). I will enter any giveaway that seems interesting, when it comes to books I of course wanna win books that I've been anticipating but I also like to win books I haven't heard of that sound interesting. Still Mad is one of those books. This book is actually a sequel to a book called The Madwoman in the Attic. I hadn't heard of it but it was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize so I'm definitely adding it to my tbr. Still Mad is a history of how feminist literature has shaped the Women's Movement and broader politics. I got so many book recommendations out of this book, this book covers alot of the more well-known feminist in the literary world like Maya Angelou, Sylvia Plath, Betty Friedan, Toni Morrison and Gloria Steinem. But it also brought some other writers to my attention like Claudia Rankine, Gloria Anzaldua, and Maxine Hong Kingston. Going into this book I didn't know how this was gonna go. The authors are white 2nd Wave Feminist and we know how those types can be. But I was pleasantly surprised. This book talked about how Black women, Indigenous women, Immigrant women, Trans women and Gay men fit into the feminist movement. It also more importantly talked about how other women are often the biggest impediments to progress. I don't know how exactly to review this book because I actually think you should just read the book. My book has so many tabs in it of important passages that this review would have to be pages long to cover. So instead I would just suggest that you read this book if you care about women and when I say women I mean Black women, Latinx women,white women, Indigenous women, Women around the globe, Trans women, Women of every sexuality, Non binary people and anybody I might have left out. A Must Read!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Haley M

    So I didn’t fully read this book after a certain point because I realized I was not going to get what I wanted from it. So I skipped around a lot, and honestly I was still disappointed with what I did read. I really wanted deep meaningful dives into literature, reflective of the ones found in Madwoman in the Attic. Toni Morrison could have easily been an entire multi-chaptered section of the book, and instead we get a handful of pages. I don’t see the point of barely covering a whole bunch of au So I didn’t fully read this book after a certain point because I realized I was not going to get what I wanted from it. So I skipped around a lot, and honestly I was still disappointed with what I did read. I really wanted deep meaningful dives into literature, reflective of the ones found in Madwoman in the Attic. Toni Morrison could have easily been an entire multi-chaptered section of the book, and instead we get a handful of pages. I don’t see the point of barely covering a whole bunch of authors, versus diving into the works of a handful of key writers. Why include NK Jemisin if she only gets two pages and barely more than a summary of only ONE of her books??? Part of the problem is too high of an expectation even after reading the intro, which discusses the legacy of 1970s feminism without bringing up intersectionality once. The height of irony, truly. Instead we get a detailed life of Hillary Rodham Clinton, and line pitching us Amy Schumer as a feminist of note. Gilbert and Gubar deserve credit for their first work that this calls back to, but this felt less like a well-researched analysis of critical works, and more like a cash grab by two people taking advantage of a moment. Truly disappointing.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    This is a good follow up to The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination. It is worth noting that Gilbert and Guebar do have solid representation African-American writers in the book as well as showcasing intersectionality and the need for it. This is a good follow up to The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination. It is worth noting that Gilbert and Guebar do have solid representation African-American writers in the book as well as showcasing intersectionality and the need for it.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Deedi Brown (DeediReads)

    All my reviews live at https://deedispeaking.com/reads/. I’ve had my eye on Still Mad since it came out, and grabbed a copy in B&N’s hardcover sale earlier this year. I decided to pick it up in March in honor of Women’s History Month, which turned out to be an even more fitting choice than I’d expected. Based on the title, I think I’d assumed this was an essay anthology. It isn’t. It’s a much more academic analysis of feminist women writers and their work, opinions, and influence dating back from All my reviews live at https://deedispeaking.com/reads/. I’ve had my eye on Still Mad since it came out, and grabbed a copy in B&N’s hardcover sale earlier this year. I decided to pick it up in March in honor of Women’s History Month, which turned out to be an even more fitting choice than I’d expected. Based on the title, I think I’d assumed this was an essay anthology. It isn’t. It’s a much more academic analysis of feminist women writers and their work, opinions, and influence dating back from the 50s through today. Think Joan Didion, Sylvia Plath, Audre Lorde, Gloria Steinem, Ursula Le Guin, etc. It turned out to be a perfect read for me, as I didn’t have time in college to take any women’s studies or many English classes. I’m always looking for catch-up materials, and this book really helped me place so many of these famous feminist writers in context in history. But I still think that you might like this if you do have some knowledge of these women’s work, because it was fascinating and super useful to have them framed together against historical events this way. My only complaint here was that I feel like it was sparse on Black women in the 60s, when I would have expected a little more about women writing in the civil rights movement. I know that part of the problem is who was and wasn’t being published — and there were certainly many more Black women included in more recent history — but that felt like a big gap. If you are a fan of more academic-style nonfiction that teaches you new things, pick this one up.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Christy-JC Carter

    Their first book was life-changing for me. They inspired me to be an academic feminist, scholar, and teacher. I was so pleased with his updated text and the title. It did not disappoint. More useful for English class than History, for me, but — a great resource and wise voices.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Virginia Arthur

    When I started reading Lawrence O'Donnell's book, Deadly Force, the killing of George Floyd took place a few days after. When I started this book, the next day, the Supreme Court draft ruling on abortion was leaked. What I learn is a book that you think chronicles the past in America--doesn't anymore. While Ukraine fights for its life, Americans wage their own war--against one another. We are a sick country. It's obvious guns are the most important thing to Americans. A civilization moves at the When I started reading Lawrence O'Donnell's book, Deadly Force, the killing of George Floyd took place a few days after. When I started this book, the next day, the Supreme Court draft ruling on abortion was leaked. What I learn is a book that you think chronicles the past in America--doesn't anymore. While Ukraine fights for its life, Americans wage their own war--against one another. We are a sick country. It's obvious guns are the most important thing to Americans. A civilization moves at the rate of its lowest mentality, not it's highest. It doesn't matter if we can cure cancer. Our society is ultimately sits at its lowest level. Until we can bring it up, this is where we be. But this is supposed to be a review of the book. This book explores the American literary history of feminist writing. For many of us Gen X'ers and older, we will recognize the names. Adrienne Rich, Sylvia Plath (of course), Toni Morrison, Gloria S., more, because we read them growing up into who we are now. In this sense, it's a reminder of how important these women were/are to how justice for American women has evolved. The book selects the more East Coast-NYC influential writers (this is tiresome, NYC's self-obsession) and provides a general biography for each one, some of it re-worn (Plath). It's important to know what forces contributed to the evolution of these women as writers and feminists and here we go again? Really? Even as I type this, I am absolutely stunned that we are back in the past of the patriarchy, a former President who gleefully admitted to grabbing women at the crotch, an American Precedent. This is not the review I wrote originally never thinking in a million years, I would be writing one saying this book is actually the PRESENT. AGAIN. We are back at the agony expressed by so many of these women. Issues we thought were if not resolved, on their way to being resolved. America is not ten steps forward, two back. America is ten steps forward, 200 back. I recommend it now not as a venue into the all important women's right past but as a perspective on the present because the past is one again in America, the present and what a tragedy and waste of potential of this great nation that constantly strives to shoot itself in the foot, shoot low, or just shoot.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

    I have to confess: I was disappointed by Still Mad. Both "The Madwoman in the Attic" and the 3 volume set, "No Man's Land" were so important to my awakening to new ways of reading and writing that reading and discovering that Dr's Gilbert Gubar's newest book is essentially a summation of the history of feminism Second Wave with some random female authors thrown in to illustrate their points was a bit of a let down. Not to mention, a good many of the writers they "go in depth " have recently or f I have to confess: I was disappointed by Still Mad. Both "The Madwoman in the Attic" and the 3 volume set, "No Man's Land" were so important to my awakening to new ways of reading and writing that reading and discovering that Dr's Gilbert Gubar's newest book is essentially a summation of the history of feminism Second Wave with some random female authors thrown in to illustrate their points was a bit of a let down. Not to mention, a good many of the writers they "go in depth " have recently or fairly recently had extensive biographies published about them. Most notably, Sylvia Plath and Adrienne Rich. I recommend the source material Gilber/Gubar cite extensively. If you're looking for a comprehensive history of the Second Wave, check out Ruth Rosen's "The World Split Open," or Karla Jay's Tales of the Lavender Menace." Revisit "Sexual Politics" or any one of the contemporaneous anthologies by both white and women of color as well as women on what Rich referred to as the Lesbian Spectrum.

  8. 5 out of 5

    B.

    I won a copy of this one in a Goodreads Giveaway. While the early and later parts of the book have too much Trump B.S. for my tastes - so sick to death of hearing about that lardass idiot, the central part of the book that doesn't deal with the immediate past, is well written and well researched. I desperately wish that the authors had decided to forego that corpulent orange pile of dung. If they had, I might have kept the book. As it is, it's not one that I will be keeping. This could have been I won a copy of this one in a Goodreads Giveaway. While the early and later parts of the book have too much Trump B.S. for my tastes - so sick to death of hearing about that lardass idiot, the central part of the book that doesn't deal with the immediate past, is well written and well researched. I desperately wish that the authors had decided to forego that corpulent orange pile of dung. If they had, I might have kept the book. As it is, it's not one that I will be keeping. This could have been a great book, but they really jumped the gun including the immediate present and immediate past.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Laurie Lisle

    This overview of women's lives through their writings from the 1950s to the present is fascinating. After living in New York City from the late 1960s, through the 1970s, and into the 1980s, chapters covering those years were intensely reminiscent for me. They reminded me of the explosion of feminist writing--including the so-called "demon texts"--and all the excitement and, yes, the disappointments of those years. It's well worth a read for those in and out of the classroom to understand the pr This overview of women's lives through their writings from the 1950s to the present is fascinating. After living in New York City from the late 1960s, through the 1970s, and into the 1980s, chapters covering those years were intensely reminiscent for me. They reminded me of the explosion of feminist writing--including the so-called "demon texts"--and all the excitement and, yes, the disappointments of those years. It's well worth a read for those in and out of the classroom to understand the profound influences of second and third-wave feminism.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lorraine

    G&G still got it! I love this tour through 20th and early 21st century feminism via the biographies of creative women: writers, singers, activists. As always, their writing is very accessible and interesting with a clear sense of authorial voice; none of that pretending to be an objective, disembodied, academic robot. Highly recommended.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tiffany

    Their previous books meant so much to me in the 1990s, I wanted to love this one. But I just didn't. I guess I didn't really connect with many of the writers they chose to highlight. Their previous books meant so much to me in the 1990s, I wanted to love this one. But I just didn't. I guess I didn't really connect with many of the writers they chose to highlight.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Katey Donaldson

    incredibly informative and inspiring, a longer read for use of academic language

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kate Merolla

    Reading this was a reminder to stay fired up, & to keep being a learner.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Catherine

    Goodreads Giveaway

  15. 4 out of 5

    Christa Sigman

    I appreciate this book for the way it connected many dots between women and literature I had heard of but was not familiar with. A very helpful and informative time.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lois Level

  17. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea Burk

  18. 4 out of 5

    Katy

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kristin Nelson

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kristina

  22. 4 out of 5

    Annika

  23. 5 out of 5

    Cathy Grogan

  24. 5 out of 5

    Betsy Sisson

  25. 4 out of 5

    Debra Brenegan

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jayna Fitzsimmons

  27. 5 out of 5

    KP

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kasturi DevChoudhury

  30. 4 out of 5

    Taylor Walworth

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