SANDRA GILBERT AND SUSAN GUBAR QUESTIONS FOR ENGLISH 492 THEORY, CSU FULLERTON
SANDRA GILBERT AND SUSAN GUBAR, THE MADWOMAN IN THE ATTIC
Assigned: Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar. From The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination: from Chapter 2: "Infection in the Sentence . . ." (1926-37 in Leitch, Vincent B. and William E. Cain. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. 2nd edition. Norton, 2010. ISBN-13: 978-0393932928.
From The Madwoman in the Attic
1. On 1927-28 of our selection from The Madwoman in the Attic, how do Gilbert and Gubar define and assess Harold Bloom's key notion that male authors are always subject to a certain "anxiety of influence" vis à vis their male predecessors?
2. On 1929-30 of our selection from The Madwoman in the Attic, Gilbert and Gubar discuss the "anxiety of authorship" that confronts female authors and differentiates their struggle to create from that of male authors. How do they define and develop this concept? How is it vitally different from Bloom's model for male authors?
3. On 1930-32 of our selection from The Madwoman in the Attic, Gilbert and Gubar address what they call the "darker side" of "female literary subculture" (1930 bottom). What are the most troubling effects of the anxiety of influence on women writers? How does Emily Dickinson's poetical phrase "infection in the sentence" (1931 lower middle) resonate in Gilbert and Gubar's analysis in this regard?
4. On 1932-36 of our selection from The Madwoman in the Attic, Gilbert and Gubar analyze the binary opposition that seems to govern any female writer: she is bound to be viewed either as an "angel in the house" (the name comes from Victorian author Coventry Patmore's narrative poem, "The Angel in the House") or a "monster." How do Gilbert and Gubar explicate these terms, and how do they help us to appreciate the deepest difficulties faced by female authors?
5. On 1936-38 of our selection from The Madwoman in the Attic, Gilbert and Gubar discuss several more "diseases and dis-eases" besetting women writers and the texts they produce, and conclude that it's vital to "learn how women have won through disease to artistic health" and that such a project must "begin by redefining Harold Bloom's seminal definitions of the revisionary 'anxiety of influence'" (1938 top). On the whole, do you think that Gilbert and Gubar have offered us a successful redefinition of Bloom's key concept for understanding literary history? Why or why not?