FEMINIST APPROACHES TO MAXINE HONG KINGSTON’S NO NAME WOMAN Canby High School Literature 120 Dr. Amy Berry and Mrs. Barrie Citrowske 15 February 2012 Literary criticism gives us a window into a work of literature It gives us a particular way of understanding the text from a specific viewpoint Feminist criticism makes women’s experience, status, and power the center of reading and interpretation Feminist criticism is concerned with "...the ways in which literature (and other cultural productions) reinforce or Undermine the economic, political, social, and psychological oppression of women" This school of theory looks at how aspects of our culture are inherently patriarchal (male dominated) and this critique strives to expose the explicit and implicit misogyny (hatred of women) Sun Yat Sen Mao Tse Tung Feminist Principles that Inform Feminist Literary Criticism Women are oppressed by patriarchy economically, politically, socially, and psychologically; patriarchal ideology is the primary means by which they are kept so http://www.ehow.com/facts_5489793_traditional -role-women-china.html In every domain where patriarchy reigns, woman is other: she is marginalized, defined only by her difference from male norms and values All of western (Anglo-European) civilization is deeply rooted in patriarchal ideology. For example, in Greek mythology a woman is Responsible for bringing sin and evil into the World—the woman is Pandora, who opens The forbidden magic box Chinese civilization depicted in Kingston’s story is the epitome of patriarchy, Male-dominated society where women have no rights, legal protection, or status of their own While biology determines our sex (male or female), culture determines our gender (masculine or feminine). Gender is a social role that we must learn Gender issues play a part in every aspect of human production and experience, including the production and experience of literature, whether we are consciously aware of these issues or not Feminist Criticism—Questions for Understanding Texts What does the work reveal about the operations (economically, politically, socially, or psychologically) of patriarchy (male dominated society)? Questions for Understanding Texts • How is the relationship between men and women • portrayed? •What are the power relationships between men and women? • How are male and female roles defined? •What constitutes masculinity and femininity? • How do characters embody these traits? •Do characters take on traits from opposite genders? How so? How does this change others’ reactions to them? How can feminist critical approaches help us to understand Kingston’s ‘No Name Woman?’ How can critical questions based on feminist thought provide a lens through which we can view the story? Feminist Criticism—Questions for Understanding ‘No Name Woman’ Why is the title important in telling us about the power and status of women in Chinese and ChineseAmerican society? What does the fact that the grandmother has no name tell us about her status and power in Chinese society? In her Granddaughter’s life? What does the story ‘No Name Woman’ tell us about the power relationships between men and women? About the presence and roles of mothers and fathers/grandmothers and grandfathers in the lives of children and adults? What do the narrator’s fantasies tell us about the status and power of young contemporary Chinese women? About the narrator’s own status and power within the Chinese-American context? Who defines roles for women in both societies? What does the story say about how women (and girls) in both cultures are valued by each society? How does the woman narrator value her ‘No Name’ grandmother? What does the story tell us about the relationships between mother and daughter in Chinese society? In Chinese-American society? Think in terms of technique: how does Kingston create the story? What narrative strategies and genre conventions does she employ to tell the story and construct the themes? How do you relate to the themes and issues in the story? How different is the world of the narrator to your world? What themes in the story are universal? What themes do you relate to? Why?