The University of Wisconsin Press
Literature & Criticism
Madness and Sexual Politics in the Feminist Novel
Studies in Brontë, Woolf, Lessing, and Atwood
Barbara Hill Rigney
A greater part of the feminist movement has considered traditional psychology to be both a product and a defense of the status quo, a patriarchal society. Here, Barbara Hill Rigney explores emerging feminist psychology by applying it to literary works by women who have depicted the relationship between madness and the female condition. Among the works Rigney considers are Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, Doris Lessing’s The Four-Gated City, and Margaret Atwood’s Surfacing, all of which depict insanity in relation to sexual politics. These authors portray a patriarchal social system which, in itself, manifests symptoms of collusive madness in the form of war or sexual oppression and is thereby seen as threatening to female psychological survival.
Barbara Hill Rigney was, at time of publication, assistant professor of comparative literature at Ohio State University. Her class on women writers was the first such class offered by the University, in 1972. She received an OSU Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching in 1974.
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LC: 78-053291 PR
128 pp. 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
Paper $10.50 s
The 1978 cloth edition of this book is out of print, but the paperback is still available.
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