Review by Choice Review

Cutter (Kent State Univ.) discusses and "periodizes" the search for women's "voice" in US women's writing. The author describes three phases of development. In the first, 1850-80--represented by Fanny Fern, Louisa May Alcott, and Harriet Wilson--writers employ a "domestic" voice and do not challenge the notion that "language is patriarchal." In the second phase (1880-1915)--Mary Wilkins Freeman, Anna Julia Cooper, Kate Chopin, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Frances Harper--Cutter places women writers "within a theory of language that assumes the speaker to be masculine," and describes their search for a "'feminine' or 'maternal' voice that might exist in the fissures of patriarchal discourse and culture." In the last phase (1915-30)--represented by Willa Cather and Jessie Faucet--writers create a "metalinguistic, ethnic voice that exercises power . . . through a deliberate disclosure of the limitation of patriarchal and racial discourses." Individual chapters discuss works by the authors mentioned above. Cutter concludes that these writers worked "to break the binary opposition of speaking, masculine-subject over silent, feminine-object" and find "new theories of language in which the experiences and perspectives of female and racial subjects can be articulated." Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. J. J. Benardete; CUNY Hunter College

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.

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