By Women or About Women: The One in Literature
Literature is and always has been the great passion of my life. Some of my earliest memories consist of stapling pages of watercolors together to create a “book” and of crawling into my grandmother’s bed and placing a book in front of her so she could read to me on a Saturday morning. Eternal windows into different worlds, stories have been enriching my life since that time. From acting out Madeline with my dolls, to reading Harriet the Spy on a plane to Istanbul, to crying over Little Women and Anne of Green Gables before eventually graduating to Jane Austen and Edith Wharton and all the nineteenth and early twentieth novels that now define my studies and my work, literature has served to not only show me different worlds, but to teach me about the different lives women have lived through time and space.
The study of literature, though, seems to always revolve around the world of men. Up until gynocriticism came along and feminist scholars did everything they could to unearth the history of women’s literature, the Great Western Canon mostly consisted of old, white men. Being literary meant aspiring to them, and studying literature meant working on their works.
Thankfully, I’ve never stood for that and the women who’ve taught me, from primary school up until now, made sure that I and my fellow students always had access to literature written by women. Whether as a direct result of that or not, I’ve always gravitated towards women’s literature. Very rarely will I voluntarily pick up a book written by a man. Never will I pick up a novel written by Hemingway.
It should come as no surprise then that I want this Window to be one that concentrates mostly on literature written by women or, at least, about women. I want us to be able to discuss literature without relying on standards or criteria set by men, and I want us to be able to discuss all literature, without weighing the importance of the presence or absence of a capital letter. Literature is literature, no matter who it’s written by or what it’s discussing… whether it may be one of the most studied novels in history or a stunning piece of fanfiction, an acclaimed critical essay or an article geared at teens, whether it be a memoir or a cookbook. Literature is literature, so long as it uses words to convey meaning to an impassioned audience. I want us, here, to be able to discuss all of this without pretension or snobbery and without relying on staid language or convention. I want passion to speak more loudly than acclaim, and I want us all to have fun. Let us squeal over language and swoon at alliteration. Let us bring back the feelings we leave behind when writing academically. Let us rant with the passion we usually feel the need to squash. Let us put whatever it is that speaks to us when we read into words. Literature is a window into life, after all, and how we enjoy it can and should be as varied and as genuine as the people who read it. I want that to come across in every article published in this Window, and I hope you’ll join me in filling its pages.