NOTES AND OBSERVATIONS ON SHOWALTER'S 'A JURY OF HER PEERS' CH. 15 and 16
Jury of Her Peers is a book that traces the development of women’s literature in the United States. These notes are taken from the book as part of the Diverse Women Writers course at Salt Lake Community College. The title of the book is taken from a short story that involves a wife killing her husband.
Ch. 15 The 1940s: World War II and after
(If they felt constrained, why not break the constraints?)
Driven mad by loneliness
Japanese internment camps in the U.S.
Jim Crow laws
Margaret Walker wrote poems about African American culture and not the war.
Gwendolyn Brooks – Annie Allen
Carson McCullers – enfant terrible; concert pianist; dressed like a boy
Jean Stafford – unwanted, unloved, unprotected; everything that befell women writers happened to Stafford. Anorexic, self-cutting; The Mountain Lion
(Henry Higgins and Stafford ask the same question – Why can’t a woman be more like a man?)
Married the man that wrecked her face in a car accident.
Wit and scathing self-deprecation that recognizes her situation
Eudora Welty – high praise from Katharine Porter; Medal of Freedom winner
Powerhouse, a tribute to Fats Weller, is misunderstood today.
Anne Petry – importance of living environment to human outcomes
Dorothy West – explores black children identifying with white beauty standards in The Living Is Easy (1948)
Ch. 16 The 1950s: Three Faces of Eve
(Can’t find fulfillment inside the home or at work… Where is it?)
1950s – housewife was the default
Gwendolyn Brooks – Maud Martha
Mary McCarthy didn’t fit in any category. Husband locked her in a room for three hours and ordered her to write. A cutting wit, who spoke up to often
Flannery O’Connor – brutal and bloody fiction; fear of becoming one’s mother; created the male character “Manley Pointer”
Shirley Jackson – outwardly happy, inwardly a mess; became morbidly obese; agoraphobic; horror stories; The Haunting of Hill House; Her masterpiece was We Have Always Lived in the Castle.
Grace Metalious – Peyton Place
(Poetry becomes a men’s realm in the 1950s. Why the change?)
Marianne Moore – deliberately impersonal poetry; reveled in her smallness and femininity
Elizabeth Bishop – lesbian expat in Brazil; “Art is art and should not be separated into gender.”
Anne Sexton wrote about taboo subjects.
Sylvia Path – wanted to teach and train her genius; (disappointed in life); (driven); (couldn’t live up to her own expectations); nightmare had her about to go to bed with “Partisan Review”
(It’s always “either/or.” How do we get to both?)
Adrienne Rich – two years of constant anger and raising children
(Read an interpretation of Rich's "Twenty-One Love Poems")
Lorraine Hansberry – Black and bi; died of cancer at 34; A Raisin in the Sun