By championing the recovery of "lost" women writers and insisting on reevaluating the past, women's studies and feminist theory have effected dramatic changes in the ways English literary history is written and taught. According to Margaret Ezell, the next step is to examine critically these successful efforts to write women's literary history - to apply the same self-conscious feminism that critics turned on traditional methods of literary history. Examining various models of the new "tradition" of women's writing, Ezell explores the shared - usually unconscious - assumptions that underlie accounts of early women writers. When twentieth-century histories of women's literature rely not only on past male scholarship and editing practices but also on inherited notions of "tradition" and "progress, " she argues, they tend to replicate an evolutionary model of history that marginalizes women who wrote before 1700. Drawing on the reading strategies of recent historicist scholarship, along with those of French feminism, Ezell illuminates the ways in which ideology shapes history and suggests new possibilities for the continued recovery of women's texts. "Writing women's literary history has been compared to doing archaeology, to receiving an inheritance, and to replanting a mother's garden. In writing this book, I am obviously starting with the belief in the value of this activity, however it is characterized. What concerns me in my reading of contemporary feminist theory is that the structures used to shape our narrative of women's literary history may have unconsciously continued the existence of the restrictive ideologies which initially erased the vast majority of women's writing fromliterary history and teaching texts."
eBook Writing Women's Literary History