January 01, 1997
This essay examines the ways in which British literature, as a discipline, has been influenced by feminist scholarship and research into the areas of gender and sexuality. It reports that feminist literary criticism took definitive shape in the late 1960s as part of the women's liberation movement, and that a central concern of this first generation of feminist scholars was to expose the gendered formation of what was being presented as "the" literary tradition. The essay goes on to explain that feminist critics were the first to question the values of gender in the canon of men's writing, to investigate its configurations as historically specific products, and to study the cultural processes by which literary texts were accorded value. It reviews the influences of the "French" school of feminist literary criticism (based on deconstructive and post-structuralist theories) and Marxist-feminist ideas on the field, and notes that the standard British literature anthologies still contain relatively few women writers, though there has been significant improvement since the 1960s. The document includes an annotated bibliography and a list of related electronic resources.