From Publishers Weekly
Gubar and Sandra M. Gilbert revolutionized feminist literary criticism with their 1979 Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-century Literary Imagination
. This memoir crossed with cultural criticism, written in the style of Virginia Woolf's foundational feminist manifesto, A Room of One's Own
, is a valiant attempt to wed the personal and political with playful literary imitation. Using not only Woolf's structure but also her tone and language, Gubar guides the reader through an academic year (she teaches at Indiana University) as she reflects on the state of present-day feminist politics. She covers the expected topics—the place of postmodern theory in the academy, how race is now discussed in feminist literary criticism. But Gubar's slavish imitation of Woolf's style ("Imponderables that profound indubitably require dawdling, I mused, glancing out the window....") simply inhibits clear locution. A deeper problem is that Gubar's often smart insights are buried in the indirect, even rambling, style. For example, in an analysis of the dynamics at a fellowship-granting meeting, Gubar describes all of the participants as barnyard animals, but the whimsy fails, detracting from Gubar's important points. Gubar is a vital voice on academic feminist concerns, but most of this volume fails in both its literary conceit and as a coherent argument. (Nov.)
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"Rooms of Our Own will charm and hearten fans of Woolf's works.Indeed, much of the delight and effectiveness of the book comes from Gubar's deft incorporation not only of Woolf's structure, but of her memorable turns of phrase. As an experiment, one cannot imagine this being done otherwise or better."
-- Maria DiBattista, professor of English and comparative literature, Princeton University
"Spoken from the heart, Rooms of Our Own provides a powerful antidote to the pessimism so often expressed about 'feminism' or 'the women's movement' or younger women's seeming lack of interest in battles that still need to be fought. Gubar, one of the foremost pioneers, addresses these issues with elegance and wit, elucidating the multiple currents swirling around gender studies and social activism today and illustrating why they still profoundly matter. Rooms of Our Own speaks as much to the students she so lovingly depicts as to those of us who teach them."
-- Brenda R. Silver, Mary Brinsmead Wheelock Professor, Dartmouth College
"If there is a young scholar, somewhere, who does not know Susan Gubar's work, or the history of feminist thought, Rooms of Our Own would make an excellent gift. Indeed, the book itself reads as a kind of gift: a gift to feminist scholars, to university communities, and to the reader rooted among either of these. Which is to say, this book is a gift to the people and institutions its author has lived among with such brilliance and wit for the past four decades as one of our most influential feminist literary critics."--Women's Studies Quarterly