A Jury of Her Peers is an unprecedented literary landmark: the first comprehensive history of American women writers from 1650 to 2000.
In a narrative of immense scope and fascination--brimming with Elaine Showalter’s characteristic wit and incisive opinions--we are introduced to more than 250 female writers. These include not only famous and expected names (Harriet Beecher Stowe, Willa Cather, Dorothy Parker, Flannery O’Connor, Gwendolyn Brooks, Grace Paley, Toni Morrison, and Jodi Picoult among them), but also many who were once successful and acclaimed yet now are little known, from the early American best-selling novelist Catherine Sedgwick to the Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright Susan Glaspell. Showalter shows how these writers--both the enduring stars and the ones left behind by the canon--were connected to one another and to their times. She believes it is high time to fully integrate the contributions of women into our American literary heritage, and she undertakes the task with brilliance and flair, making the case for the unfairly overlooked and putting the overrated firmly in their place.
Whether or not readers agree with the book’s roster of writers, A Jury of Her Peers is an irresistible invitation to join the debate, to discover long-lost great writers, and to return to familiar titles with a deeper appreciation. It is a monumental work that will greatly enrich our understanding of American literary history and culture.Amazon Exclusive: Elaine Showalter's Top Ten Books by American Women Writers You Haven't Read (But Should)
Here’s my starting guide to ten extraordinary works of fiction--one from each decade of the twentieth century--that deserve to be much better known.
Starred Review. By covering the lives and careers of hundreds of American women writers of all backgrounds, this survey is ambitious and galvanizing, contributing to feminist theory without itself reading like theory. Diverse beyond easy description, these women, especially in earlier centuries, have two things in common. One is an almost universal break with patriarchal constructs. Second is gaining independence from European literary models, female as well as male. Although there have been multivolume, encyclopedic works of greater scope, like Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar's Norton Anthology of Literature by Woman, this is the first guide and history ever attempted by one scholar working solo. With a generally chronological approach (including a handful of sensible deviations), Showalter's Baedeker showcases the rise and fall of styles and genres. Lives and careers of superstars such as Emily Dickinson, Gertrude Stein, Pearl S. Buck and Toni Morrison are put into high relief. In Showalter's book, the voices of several hundred other authors, ranging from Phillis Wheatley and Julia Ward Howe to Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton, Grace Metalious and James Tiptree Jr., sing out in a monumental choral orchestrated by Showalter (A Literature of Their Own), a groundbreaking feminist scholar at Princeton. (Feb. 25)
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A JURY OF HER PEERS is an invaluable reference when reading AMERICAN WOMEN WRITERS by the same author. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Maureen
An excellent addition to anyone's library of women's history & writing. It includes much about women writers little heard of and the importance of their work.Published on January 8, 2013 by Carol Boyd
A very fine history of the evolution of women writers from the 1600s to today. Very important for men and women to learn about the literature and background of these very talented... Read morePublished on February 14, 2010 by Martha Stone
A fine and exhaustive research project that provides an encylopedia of women writers throughout the history of women in literature.Published on October 24, 2009 by Gloria Karp
I enjoyed reading this book and discovering so many female authors, many of whom I had never heard of or studied. Read morePublished on May 31, 2009 by CookieMonster
Elaine Showalter's list of writers discussed in her book is long and diverse and welcome, but the omissions are even more surprising than I had imagined, and I don't mean the... Read morePublished on May 17, 2009 by Tom Whalen
Elaine Showalter's thematic, though not chronologic, followup to her superb "A Literature of Their Own" shows that she has lost none of her ability to write breezily readable lit... Read morePublished on April 16, 2009 by Charlus